A fine YA novel about perseverance in sports and in life.

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MAGGIE VAULTS OVER THE MOON

In this debut young adult novel, a farm girl rebounds after a family tragedy, soaring to new heights as a pole-vaulter.

Teenager Maggie Steele has just lost her brother Alex in a tragic car accident. He was a beloved son and brother and also an all-star high school athlete in a small Kansas town where high school sports matter. Maggie is reminded each day of her brother, and she struggles to cope with life on the farm without him. She’s the only child left to take over the family business, and she has a sinking feeling she’ll be trapped there forever. As she begins her senior year, she still suffers from grief and anxiety about what to do with the rest of her life. When it appears that she’ll never be able to get over these difficulties, she begins talking to her deceased brother; to her surprise, his voice answers her. Alex’s voice guides her to take up pole vaulting, and he coaches her on how to be the very best at it. Through his coaching, Maggie finds her purpose. Overstake’s novel exudes sweetness; in some ways, it feels as if it takes place in another era, as it lacks the dark edge seen in other popular YA stories. Former sportswriter Overstake’s crisp style also gives the pole-vaulting scenes authenticity and tension. The story will most likely engage younger teenage girls, but its themes will resonate with anyone who has suffered profound loss.

A fine YA novel about perseverance in sports and in life.

Pub Date: Oct. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-1478296874

Page Count: 222

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Nov. 15, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2012

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An earnest examination of mental health in sports.

GEESE ARE NEVER SWANS

Sixteen-year-old Gus Bennett lives in the shadow of his older brother, Danny, a former Olympic swimming hopeful who recently died by suicide.

Gus does not have an easy home life: He has a strained relationship with his mother, a single parent who’s still struggling after Danny’s death; and his older sister, Darien, has a drug addiction and abandoned her now 18-month-old child to the care of their mother. But Gus hopes to train with Coach Marks, the renowned trainer who worked with his brother. He even sneaks into the country club to get access to the pool, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed. He has his eye on qualifying for the national team and seems poised for success, but he soon experiences a downward spiral and engages in reckless behavior. Although the side characters are underdeveloped, Gus’ first-person narration carries the story along smoothly. Conceptualized by the late Academy Award–winning basketball player Bryant and written by Clark, this emotional novel contains lyrical prose that beautifully captures the energy of swimming and short chapters that will keep readers engaged. Physical descriptions are limited, suggesting a white default, but naming conventions suggest some diversity among the swim team members.

An earnest examination of mental health in sports. (resources) (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: July 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-949520-05-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

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A superb, complex romance full of heart, humor, and unforgettable characters.

ALL THE THINGS WE NEVER KNEW

Two promising Texas basketball players navigate the ups and downs of first love.

For 11th grade star players Carli and Rex, it’s love at first sight when he blows her a kiss from the free-throw line as she watches the game on the sidelines. Carli believes in magic and looks for signs in everyday life—like Rex’s kiss—to help her make decisions. Who should she live with after her parents’ divorce? What should she do with her future—one that won’t include basketball, which she knows will disappoint her father and teammates? Rex is a nature lover like his mother, who died giving birth to him. His father is distant, and inside their big, lonely house, Rex dreams of the NBA. Carli and Rex’s roller-coaster romance is rife with betrayal, heartbreak, grief, and family secrets. As narrators of alternating chapters, they are funny, smart, and unflinchingly candid. Well-written dialogue and fine attention to detail reveal Tamani’s strong insight into Gen Z life. The intensity and depth of Carli and Rex’s love story are conveyed as deftly as the high-energy play-by-plays in their basketball games. Tamani crafts layers of complexity around falling in love, making hard choices, and dealing with loss—on and off the court—in this deeply intimate story of two talented, sensitive teens. Carli, Rex, and their relatives and friends are black; Rex’s teammates are white.

A superb, complex romance full of heart, humor, and unforgettable characters. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265691-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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