Thirteen-year-old soccer player and cancer survivor Cody is determined to get back on the field.
Having completed treatment, Cody longs to regain his equilibrium, both at home and on the soccer field. While an opportunity to try out for the Lions—a team just moving up to the division he played in before he got sick—seems ideal, Cody encounters several obstacles. His goal to play soccer is challenged by his mother’s apprehensions, his own qualms about his post-recovery soccer abilities and several relentless bullies on his new team. Skuy subtly explores the emotional aspects of Cody’s recovery, portraying family dynamics in the wake of a child’s critical illness and addressing Cody’s struggles to establish new friendships after his illness. He also presents the issue of domineering sports parents, whose enthusiasm for their child’s success sometimes eclipses good sportsmanship. The tension builds as several star players clash with Cody and his fellow substitutes on the team. Despite the taunts of the bullies, Cody quietly perseveres with the support of several new allies. A key soccer tournament gives Cody and his friends the chance to prove themselves. Invigorating, detailed game descriptions capture the kinetic energy of soccer while illuminating the skills and strategies essential to the sport.
Skuy adeptly combines exhilarating sports with a thoughtfully engrossing storyline that will inspire readers. (Fiction. 10-14)