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Ready For The World: Driver’s Education

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Loved it! 😍

Get ready for a winding ride through the first year of high school in Driver’s Education by Charmeljun Gallardo.

In Ready for the World: Driver’s Education, Charmeljun Gallardo has written a charmingly realistic novel set in mid-1980s San Diego. Brandon is entering 10th grade and this brings with it a lot of transitions and new desires. He finally has his driver’s permit and will begin attending the local high school. Like his buddies, he focuses on finding a car so he doesn’t have to rely on mom or dad’s or have to take the bus to school. They’re also all focused on finding a girlfriend. The problem is, the girl Brandon really likes is a long-time friend. This makes his feelings toward her more confusing and raises the stakes around actually expressing those feelings and attempting to take their friendship into the realms of romance. Then life becomes more complicated when a tragic accident befalls his friend Ally’s family. 


Strong characters feel real and resonate with the reader. Realistic dialogue captures the thoughts and situations of typical high school guys from the ‘80s. Today’s readers will likely be surprised that they are similar to their own—sans cellphones and social media. The situations Brandon and his friends experience are engaging and sometimes funny—like what his friend Josh goes through as he rebuilds a car. They are also sometimes heartbreaking and so realistic that the novel at times seems autobiographical. 


I do wish, however, for greater tension in the storyline. I like a book where I reach a certain point and then cannot put it down. Still, I found myself thinking about the characters and what would happen next between readings. I also found myself wondering about a few terms—like "ASB booths"—and had to look them up. (It seems ASB is a term connected to the San Diego area of California. We never referred to our student council as Associated Student Body in the Midwest.) Finally, in some scenes, I found myself drawing on my own high school experiences to fill in gaps for the setting.


Still, I hope teen readers will give this story a chance, despite the “historical fiction” aspect. I know I enjoyed it because it brought back my own high school memories. What Brandon and his friends experience are what many teens desire. There is universal truth in the story, so I recommend it for both teens and adults.


Reviewed by

I have two blogs; one on writing and one for children's book reviews & activities. I’m currently reviewing secular books with Catholic characters, rated to aid parents in selecting titles. I'm the author of over 30 books for children and teens and over 1500 articles. I also enjoy cooking and nature.

Driver’s Education

About the author

I’m a writer, photographer, filmmaker, amateur chef, sports freak, movie geek, child of the 70’s, teen of the 80’s, husband of 20+ years, father of a young musician, and very glad you got this far through my run-on sentence. view profile

Published on April 10, 2020

Published by

30000 words

Genre: Young Adult

Reviewed by