Dirt Bikes, Drones, andby Conrad Wesselhoeft

I was tricked by the cover. I don’t have a ton of interest in dirt bikes, so I had, initially, passed this one by. But, boy, am I glad I picked it up.

Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly is a book with a heartbeat.

Arlo Santiago loves his family, but ever since his mother died, they are struggling. His sister, Siouxsie, struggles with grief, as well as new diagnosis of Huntington’s. His father, struggles with his grief and with being an unemployed writer. And Arlo struggles with his grief, but escapes through riding dirt bikes (in reality) and drones (via video games). He likes to escape into the “drone zone,” a place of hyper-focus. His gaming skills are noticed by the military, and before long he is doing test runs and then missions. This opportunity, after all, could save his family from the brink. But Arlo is a pacifist, so when his operations become more than just recon, he has to make a choice.

Wesselhoeft has a special way with words. Flight scenes–via drones or dirt bikes–are beautifully poetical while, somehow, also being intense, and the focus on family and characterization pull it all into a “this book has go it all” package.

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