In this series opener, WNBA star Delle Donne (My Shot, 2017) shares a story clearly based on her own experiences playing basketball in middle school.
There’s plenty of basketball as well as typical early-adolescent moments as narrator Elle Deluca asserts her desire to play not just because she is 6 feet tall in seventh grade, but because she is skilled. Elle is white, and the other members of the team at her small private school in Wilmington, Delaware, display a fair amount of surface diversity. One girl, Coach Ramirez’s daughter, is one of several with Latinx-pointing surnames; another is known for sewing her own hijabs; and one named Hannah is of Indian heritage (and has stereotypically strict parents). Little else distinguishes their culture or ethnicity. (The faculty is stunningly diverse, as is the curriculum.) Spring Meadow is a K-12 school, with a traditional cotillion requiring the girls and boys from seventh grade up to dress formally, and for Elle, who is feeling awkward from her growth spurt, this is agony. Shopping for a dress is an ordeal, and many readers will relate to her unhappiness at being pushed into situations she’d much rather avoid. Aside from this rather bland subplot, the story is, unsurprisingly, focused on basketball.
This will satisfy those readers who don’t want many challenges in their stories; the bonus of being written by a WNBA star will be its true calling card. (Fiction. 9-12)