This sports story explores bullying on the Brookville Breakers, a girls soccer team in the New York suburbs.
Protagonist Val Flores’ Mexican heritage and lower economic status make her vulnerable in this second in the Soccer Sisters trilogy by Montalbano (Out of Bounds, 2017). The team’s first outing focused on white, freckled Makena, who is Val’s best friend and whose father owns the restaurant where Val’s father, Miguel, is the manager. The two girls have been kicking the ball around since they were small, and though Val doesn’t live in the same tony suburb as the other team members, she is definitely one of the team’s big assets. Nevertheless, Jessie, a tall white girl and a good defender, begins to first hint and then outright tell Val she is not fitting in with the team. How Val handles the insecurities that result from these attacks is the main thrust of the narrative, and a blooming relationship with a teammate’s brother forms a subplot. Val seems less interested than many of the others in boys but enjoys having a boy for a friend. Included in the backmatter is an endorsement by Brandi Chastain as well as a glossary and book-discussion questions.
Solid sports fare for soccer aficionados with a look at how race and class affect kids’ friendships. (Fiction. 9-13)