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A Ticket to Ride
Paula McLain
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A Ticket to Ride

3.27  ·  Rating Details ·  695 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews
Set in the summer of 1973, this debut novel tells the story of an insecure and motherless teenager who falls under the dangerous spell of her older cousin.

"It was August. For years it was August. There were pomegranates and wilting patio chairs and long afternoons that seemed seared open. There was heat like wet gauze and a high white sky and music coming from everywhere a
Paperback, 288 pages
Published January 6th 2009 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published January 8th 2008)
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I'm waffling between "I liked it" and "It was Ok". Paula McLain is a superb writer and poet, there is no doubt about that. She wrote one of my favorite books from last year- "The Paris Wife"- and I'm finding it very hard to believe "A Ticket to Ride" is also by the same author. The tone and language in both books is COMPLETELY different.

I found "A Ticket to Ride" too florid and almost overwhelming in its beautiful poetic language for the first half of the novel that I was very close to putting
Michelle Owens
Nov 11, 2008 Michelle Owens rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2008-read, own
"It was August. For days it was August."

During the summer of 1973, Jamie and her cousin, Fawn, who has come to stay for the summer, spend their days sunbathing, listening to great music, and getting into trouble. Jamie lives with her uncle, Raymond, and is excited to have someone to spend the long days with. Fawn is older, very manipulative and quite self absorbed. Jamie is only 14 and still not sure about who she is and what is important to her. She is very impressionable, and wants so much to
Jamie is a motherless girl who grows up with her distant uncle. She's a good girl in every sense of the word, until her cousin Fawn shows up. Jamie is eager to please her much more experienced cousin that she will do anything to impress her. As Jamie changes more and more from the nice person she once was, Fawn entices her to sneak out with her to Chicago.

It is here that Jamie and Fawn go too far, getting involved in a rape, a faked kidnapping, and eventually one of their friends ends up missing
Lee Marie
Feb 28, 2010 Lee Marie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I first started reading this book I thought about abandoning it, which I do not do very often with books. I thought it was another typical coming of age story but it ended up, in the end, very nearly taking my breath away. I fell in love with the characters, Jamie, Claudia, Collin and even Fawn. And Paula McLain wrote it beautifully, I felt everything Jamie was feeling and the imagery that she used was just wonderful. In the end I was definitely shocked by this book, I loved it. It will for ...more
Take a Megan Abbott book, pop it in a time machine back to the 1970s, and A Ticket to Ride is what you'd get.

I was hesitant about this one because this isn't a time period or subject that interests me at all, but I loved Paula McLain's other novels so much that I got desperate to get my hands on anything she'd written.

This definitely feels like a first novel when compared to the outstanding The Paris Wife and the very respectable Circling the Sun. It feels too personal but not relatable. Still
Rita King
I made myself finish the book but it was not a favorite. I had loved The Paris Wife and was really looking forward to another great book by Paula McLain. It was a disappointment.
Oct 06, 2014 Jenny rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 01, 2011 Laurel-Rain rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In the long hot summer of 1973, two young teenage girls push the boundaries, hoping to experience whatever it will take to make them cool, sexy, and happy.

For Jamie, the exploration is about a motherless girl searching for approval and acceptance, which is why she is so willing to follow the lead of her cousin Fawn, who has ended up in Moline, Illinois because she is trouble personified. Fawn's version of the events that brought her to Illinois casts her in the most positive light possible. And
Christina Rau
Nov 13, 2015 Christina Rau rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novels
A Ticket To Ride by Paula McLain is a coming of age all-American 1970s musical montage. Each section pins down a phase of friendship between two girls or a backstory of one of the girl's family history that involves an unknown mom and sick elderly grandparents and an uncle who has to raise a girl. Each section depends on a song title: "Drift Away," "You Can't Always Get What You Want," "Stuck In The Middle With You," "I'll Take You There," "Morning Has Broken." Adolescent decision-making, semi-o ...more
Jan 11, 2011 Tristyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Family drama

I think that this is one of the most entertaining books to read and it has in my opinion one of the best writing styles I have ever come across I really made a conection with the main charecter Jamie and how she was quite but then she met Fawn when she moved in with them because she was too muc of a hand full for her own parents and the suspenseful moments as you gradualy watch Jamie become more and more attached to fawn eventhough she knows that she is bad and how she is ruining her
May 21, 2014 Christiane rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Nothing new here

I can hardly believe that this is the same author who wrote the brilliant "The Paris Wife". I couldn't even get past the first half of "A Ticket to Ride" as the flip style really put me off. Haven't we all read this somewhere before : shallow, precocious teens getting into trouble ? Readers of that age group might enjoy this book and identify with the characters but as an adult reader I expected much better of Paula McLain.
Jan 09, 2012 Meg rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Anyone who ever spent a summer listening to the radio, working on her tan, and learning about boys and life with that not-so-good-for-you friend that you just can't stay away from will be able to relive it vividly with McLain's prose. This was the perfect beach read for me~ a few ticks higher on the literary scale than the chick-lit that usually permeates the beach chair set.
Aug 11, 2014 Luciano rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I didn't enjoy reading this book. I guess I'm reached an age where I just don't care about teenage angst. I don't empathize with characters who don't know who they are and can't find themselves. Lost little boys and girls trying to find their way in the world. Frequently, I wanted to enter the story and slap the characters silly, especially , whiney Jamie. What a blubbering mess of a human being. Her mother Suzette, is another character who is so pathetic, so unbelievably docile and vulnerable; ...more
Having loved Paula McLain's other two books, I was eager to read this - her first - novel. Set in 1973 (and with era-appropriate song titles for chapter headings) it's the story of Jamie and her very troubled cousin Fawn, who has been shipped away for the summer. I really enjoyed this book - to a point. But at some point midway through the story I got kind of tired of the bad decisions these 15 & 16 year old kids were making, which eventually culminate in Jamie's rape and the death of one of ...more
Lori Clark
Mar 01, 2014 Lori Clark rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: psychological
The blurb on this one sold me. Jamie was a seriously naive young girl who was never wanted by her mother and grew up living with her grandparents -- until that's not an option anymore. Whisked away from California to Moline, Illinois to live with her Uncle. Everything is okay. Lackluster, but, okay.

Enter Fawn...The wild child. Jamie adores Fawn. Idolizes her. Wants to be more like her. Fawn steps into Jamie's life and things begin to go downhill from there. Jamie is an impressionable girl who wa
Sep 02, 2012 Drew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful prose, propelling story.

An evocative start: "It was August. For years it was August."

And an equally profound (near)end line: "Was there anything sadder than starting your life?"

Paula McLain is also a poet. I can't wait to read her poems.
Jun 28, 2012 amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
loved. her language is beautiful and the way she describes ordinary scenes made me want to keep reading well past bedtime. highly recommend, in no small part because anyone can relate to feeling out of place and wanting to fit in with the cool kids.
Feb 15, 2014 Kim rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was a quick read. The book started off slow but ended quickly. I never really felt connected with the charters. I think I would have enjoyed it more if I was a teenager.
Martie Nees Record
McLain is one of my favorite authors with a personal history (growing up in foster homes) as interesting as her poems and novels. This story takes place during a long, hot Illinois summer in 1973. An insecure, motherless 15yr old girl falls under the dangerous spell of her older and more worldly female cousin. A coming of age story with all the urgency of adolescence that can easily turn into tragedy. The teen girls are written heartbreakingly real. Since I graduated high school in 1973, I had t ...more
Robert Scott
++The jacket reviews (all by authors) refer to this as a coming out novel. I found it much deeper and tragic than that. 15 year old Jamie falls under the evil influence of her 16 year old cousin Fran whom she considers her best friend. And as background Jamie's uncle Ray who has become her guardian, has had an attachment to his sister & Jamie's mother Suzette in which she used him and manipulated him to do whatever she wanted. A close look inside what goes on between young female BFFs and th ...more
Sep 16, 2015 Amanda rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Read this because I liked The Paris Wife and am on the wait list for Circling the Sun.
I liked the Jamie and Fawn story better than the older Suzette and Raymond story.
It's hard to read a book knowing a sweet lost girl is going to go down a bad path and make terrible decisions to impress her friend. Just as it was hard to see Suzette abandon her daughter and throw away her life.
I found it very real - the people, the friendships and relationships, the emotions. Well rotten, beautiful detail.
Kim Miller-Davis
This is a coming-of-age story about Jamie, a teenaged girl, whose troubled relative of the same age, Fawn, comes to stay with her and her guardian uncle during the summer of 1973. Not only does McLain expertly build tension as the girls get themselves deeper and deeper into trouble, she also renders such an authentic depiction of adolescent girls and their relationships with each other that I kept getting flashbacks of my own youthful relationships---things that I haven't thought about in years. ...more
Sarah Whitney
May 05, 2011 Sarah Whitney rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, own, 2011
Jamie is a motherless girl searching for approval and acceptance, which is why she is so easily influenced by her cousin Fawn, and ultimately brought down a path of trouble and tragedy.

Fawn is beautiful, manipulative, and determined to have a good time. When Fawn comes to live with Jamie and her Uncle Raymond for the summer, Jamie becomes enamored with Fawn and her lifestyle, and lets Fawn completely transform not only how she looks but her behavior as well. Fawn is a selfish, troubled girl, wh
The end of the book made up for a slow start and I'd prefer to give it three and a half stars. Raymond is understated, he's my favorite; I didn't need to read his back story to know his back story - I just knew, and I loved him all the same. It definitely clarified a few things but I skimmed those chapters to see what mess Jamie and Fawn were in.

This book is very relevant today despite the book being set in the 1970's. It's gritty, it's real, it's a good read. It's shocking how love can blind us
What a pleasant surprise this book was. I wasn't really expecting much since I picked it up in my local Dollar Tree for only $1. I figured the editing would be awful and the plot boring, but I must say I was wrong! This book was an interesting look into the twisted relationships between teenage girls. While reading this, I found myself relating to Jamie as she did everything for Fawn just to have Fawn turn around and make fun of her to make others laugh. Teenage girls are brutal and this book wa ...more
Steffi Porter
Jul 10, 2014 Steffi Porter rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For the first half, I found the story well written but not very interesting. Especially as it switched back and forth between Jamie, the protagonist's perspective and that of her seemingly un-involved detached uncle. I enjoyed reading it nonetheless, but It still wasn't particularly exciting, and I kept wondering what it was building to, and hoping it would be something big. It definitely was. Half way through, the story picked up pace in a very surprising way. Without giving away any spoilers, ...more
Lisa Mcbroom
Set in the summer of 1973, I enjoyed living famillar moments in pop culture because Jamie was the same age as me as a teen. I like how all the chapter headings are songs during the era. The reason for the three stars it moved back and forth too much. I felt it would work better as a book of short stories than a novel. To be fair this is McClain's debut novel.
Nov 18, 2008 Anne rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It took a while for this book to get going. The beginning chapters are very detailed with a poetic writing style. It got to be a bit annoying. It's not surprising that this novel is poetic-like as she does have her MFA in poetry and has written poetry collections.
I also found myself getting irritated with the main character and her inability to be herself and stand up for herself.
The book is about a young girl who is now living with her uncle (after living with her grandparents) as her mother w
Amber Cooke
Jul 29, 2014 Amber Cooke rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book brought back a lot of memories from adolescence and made me say a little prayer of thanks that I got out alive and unscathed. I think all girls like me knew a couple of Fawns in our day. I love the rock'n'roll songs as chapter titles. It was like a soundtrack playing in the background while reading.
Sep 30, 2009 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I felt like I'd read this adult novel before, but maybe I just read too much? It's 1973 in Moline, Illinois (yay! love the setting!) and Paula is bored. She just moved from California to live with her Uncle Raymond and she has no idea where her mother and father are. Then cousin Fawn moves in because she was involved in a sex scandal with a teacher. whoooooo. Fawn makes Paula her project--haircut, makeup, new clothes. Then the two teenagers start hitting the town at night. They smoke, drink, mee ...more
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Paula McLain is the author of the New York Times and internationally bestselling novels, The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun. She’s also published two collections of poetry, Less of Her and Stumble, Gorgeous, the memoir Like Family: Growing Up in Other People's Houses, and a first novel, A Ticket to Ride. She received her MFA in poetry from the University of Michigan in 1996, and has since receive ...more
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“I didn't want to be a sweet boy's sweet girlfriend. I wanted to be Fawn's equal, the kind of girl who stood up for herself and took care of business, who cut guys loose when it was required.” 14 likes
“It was august. for years it was august … . there was heat like wet gauze and a high, white sky and music coming from everywhere at once.” 2 likes
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