Behind the Bit
Canterwood Crest #3
by Jessica Burkhart
With friends like these...
It's midwinter break and Sasha Silver has been invited to attend an exclusive equestrian clinic. Problem is, Callie, Heather, Alison, and Julia have also been invited. And after the way things ended at Canterwood's Sweetheart Soiree, the line between friend and frenemy is thinner than ever.
You know how people went a little nuts over the boys vs. horses dynamic in Pine Hollow? Oh, crazy people. What would I do without your capslock rage?
I bring up this topic because so many horse books are so bad at finding a happy medium between the two. Ashleigh and Samantha from Thoroughbred treated the opposite sex as if they were hazy on if it even existed, and when boys were there they were not there, relegated to boredom for the rest of their fictitious lives. And from what I can gather, young girls everywhere approved heartily. No to sexual chemistry! Yes to horses! May this never, ever change! Until it does. Sorry, kids.
And then Jessica Burkhart and Canterwood Crest came along, totally confusing this established horse book trope. It is refreshing to see a change. I am definitely reading these books with an emotion I'm pretty sure is glee. Mainly because it's finally been proven: boys and horses can successfully be coinhabitants in a 12-year-old girl's brain. It can be done! Do not shy away from this, authors and tween girls! It's okay! Everyone put away the capslock and take a deep breath. A deep, soothing breath.
I am still enjoying this series, despite what I felt was a disconnect coming into Behind the Bit. I opened it up, read the first chapter, and put the book away for something like two weeks. I don't know if it was just the tween boy drama (ironically) that I didn't want to deal with at the moment, or what, exactly. It could possibly be that Sasha, despite being what I feel is a somewhat submissive personality, can be very in your face with the first person narrative. And when you're straddling the line between perkiness and angst, I just need to be in a certain mood to read this sort of thing. And that sort of mood occurs the day before this book is due at the library, apparently.
While it did take me a while to get going, the book does pick up as Sasha tries to piece her friendships (and possible romantic relationship with Jacob) back together over the two weeks of a clinic, during which the rest of the school is off on break. Eric, the other part of the love triangle, stays behind to help out with the clinic. Jacob, the other other part of the love triangle, flits off to be whatever the twelve-year-old equivalent of broody is. Here is where I say that I loathe love triangles, and yet I am drawn to them like a moth to flame. I find this very pathetic, but it can't be helped. Mainly, I hate them because the outcome is always obvious. I give Jessica points for creating a non-obvious love triangle. Although, I am still very wary of this development. Actually, I suppose this is more of a love quadrangle. Which is better, really.
While Callie isn't speaking to Sasha, Eric and Heather are. Ignoring Eric for a moment, because that was predictable, I loved what was going on with Heather. Because I like antagonistic relationships and/or friendships that are complicated, yet work in a dysfunctional way, this worked out for me. I enjoy that the main cast doesn't always have to get along, or never get along. And I think this aspect of Canterwood Crest is what I'm going to always love.
I also liked the end. Sure, there's a twist that you'll tilt your head and squint at, while trying to remember that these are seventh grade kids, but it works out and leaves you eager for the next installment. So, high marks on much of this book.
Now, let's get to some other points:
- I am not a fan of describing clothing for no apparent reason. Behind the Bit takes this too far, in my opinion. Not to the insane levels of insane insanity like, say, Anita Blake: Vampire Hunter or anything (I'm sure you always wanted to know the color of the Nike swoosh on your favorite character's shoes, didn't you?), but I'm a firm believer in describing clothing for two reasons: to say something about the character, and/or to help set the scene. If your character is in the barn, where he/she seems to always be, I'll assume they're wearing some normal barn attire. I don't need to know exactly what in this or that shade of color, and that was a problem I found multiple times here. To the point that I started to worry that this series was going to start namedropping a few brand names every chapter.
- I love Heather. She is my favorite character. There, I've said it! (I'm sure exactly no one is surprised.) That said, I've got issues with Jasmine. Who the hell is she and why is she such a bitch? I would take school rivalry, or something, but over this book she's just there at the clinic specifically to be an irritant. It's just...plain.
- Maybe this is just 100% how I was taught, but taking up a lunge line by only six inches seems like an easy way to get your line caught around your hand. I...am not sure about this whole scene. Overall, however, I was pleased with most of the horsey scenes in this book.
- Sometimes, I think these books could really benefit from being cut about twenty pages. There's still a lot of extraneous details that don't need to be there, aside from random clothing description, such as getting a little too into the details of studying and how to make a warm bran mash or thin out a mane. It's not that they're bad, they're just slowing the pace of the book. Which I'm sure had a lot to do with my slow start in reading it.
- Oh, and I'm pretty sure I am a part of Team Eric. Although I've been known to jump bandwagons...
That's it! I have no idea what is next, as Riders completely failed to captivate me. I will get back to staring at it in a little bit, and I'm sure season four of Wildfire will serve as a good distraction.