Soccer is everything for high school athlete Elise.
Part of the Counterattack series about various teammates on a high school girls’ soccer team, Berne’s tale features senior Elise. In the spring season of her final year, Elise anticipates earning a place on a college team. She is thrilled to learn a scout from her parents’ alma mater will be observing her team in a month, searching for potential freshman candidates. Desperate to make a stellar impression, Elise scrambles for a quick method to increase her competitive edge, naïvely deciding that the “Winners Athletic Supplements” she discovers are the solution. Berne examines serious issues young athletes encounter, including the tremendous pressure to succeed—whether it is self-imposed or driven by parental influence—and body-image concerns. Elise, lacking confidence in her skills and struggling with self-esteem, quickly makes a series of poor choices in her quest for instant perfection. Her anxieties further manifest in body-image issues, and she embarks on dangerously unhealthy eating patterns. Elise’s deteriorating physical and emotional conditions are effectively sketched in this fast-paced, slim novel. Ultimately, events culminate in near disaster, which leads to dramatic changes in Elise’s sports and life goals.
Berne’s discerning tale combines vivid sports descriptions with a compelling storyline. (Fiction. 12-18)