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Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly (2014)

"Readers will worry, laugh and ultimately soar along with Arlo as he finds his way. Nuanced supporting characters and a vivid New Mexico landscape ground Arlo’s dilemma, creating a superbly well-balanced narrative."

—Kirkus, starred review. Click here for full review.

“With writing that ranges from ballsy and brash to breathtakingly lyrical, Dirt Bikes, Drones, and Other Ways to Fly resounds with thrilling action, a vividly depicted setting, and a cast of skillfully sculpted characters.”

—School Library Journal. Click here for full review.

"Wesselhoeft takes the ethical implications of both the drone program and stunt riding seriously . . . (He) successfully manages to bring a ripped-from-the-headlines issue to the attention of teens who may not pay much heed to the news but are up for a fast-paced novel."

Project Muse. Click here for full review.

“Wesselhoeft's mesmerizing descriptions of Arlo’s New Mexico . . . and giddy exhilaration when he's riding his Yamaha bike . . . will keep readers in the thrill of the moment.”

—Publishers Weekly. Click here for full review:

“Features a supporting cast lit up with larger-than-life characters and a protagonist who loves flying recklessly close to the edge but makes right choices in the clutch.”

—Booklist. Click here for full review.

“Meet Arlo Santiago, ace dirt biker and world class video gamer, at home amid New Mexico mesas, ranch lands, and small town environs. As Arlo grapples with this mother's untimely death, a father who is adrift, and a younger sister fighting Huntington's disease, opportunities open up, including an intriguing offer from the U.S. Air Force at White Sands. Wesselhoeft's (Adios, Nirvana) lyrically propulsive prose and spot-on dialogue hurtle us through Arlo's exploits and introspections, his turmoil and triumphs, giving us an intimate, teen's-eye view. Wesselhoeft hits another YA novel clean out of the park.”

—John Willson, Eagle Harbor Book Co.

"Comic and tragic—written in prose as bright and clear as the New Mexico sun. Just wonderful."

—Carl Deuker, author of RUNNER

"The biggest character is the land and sky of that country: 'The ancient turquoise sky'; 'Sail across the last drops of milky light from Rio Loco Field'; 'the dancing gypsy skirts of dawn'; 'the red-desert gray coyote… his yellow eyes'; 'Burro  Mesa monolithic in the creeping dusk'; 'Anchor of earth, spiral of sky.'

"And this from your palette: 'The dusty green of the far hills, the powder blue of the forest, black where the fire singed it. The broken gray of the talus shelf. All swirling into veined rust, which is the color of the tumbling mesa – the color of life.'

"Thanks so much for this!"

—Joseph Theroux, Hilo, Hawaii

"I've been meaning to tell you what a complete joy this book is. I've been gliding through it a few pages at a time each night, just before falling asleep, and I always wake up thinking about it. Your ear for the inner voice of a teenage boy is exquisite, and your feel for the Southwest—landscape, culture, people, everything—is transporting. I taste and smell the place in every line of your clean, sensory prose.

—Geoffrey Cowley, New York City

"I finally was able to sit down in my camp chair and read your last book. I really enjoyed it. Deeply familiar, adventurous, curious and poignant."

—Danielle Segura, Joshua Tree, CA

"I want you to know how much pleasure your new novel gave me--especially as I read it again, slowly, thoughtfully. The blurb on the jacket proclaimed 'bright and clear'--and for me often mystical. Thank you!"

Tim Coggeshall, Cape Cod, MA

"My name is Keaton Bentley from Colorado. I am a high school student who kinda likes reading but not enthusiastically. But after reading Dirt Bikes, Drones and Other Ways to Fly that changed. I just wanted to take the time to tell you thank you for writing this book. It's unbelievable how much I can relate it to my life, and it always made me stop and think about things. So thank you for giving me a new perspective on the way I see things."

Keaton Bentley, Colorado

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Quick links:

Adios, Nirvana (2010) Reviews

DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY is a 2014 Junior Library Guild selection.

DIRT BIKES, DRONES, AND OTHER WAYS TO FLY has landed on Air & Space/Smithsonian’s 2014 list of Best Aviation and Space-Themed Books for Young Readers. The list--which will be published in December--is an annual roundup of children’s and YA titles that focus on flying. 

© 2014 Conrad Wesselhoeft