TOP PROSPECT

Plenty of play-by-play peppers this inside look at America's top game, with a focus on early recruitment of elite high school athletes.

Way early. Following in older brother Carter's football trail brings Travis to the attention of a top coach at nearby Gainesville University. When Travis is in the seventh grade, Carter commits to Gainesville—and the coach is impressed enough with Travis to offer the 13-year-old white boy a scholarship before he starts eighth grade. Suddenly, the off-field games of media and popularity are coming full tilt at both brothers. Travis' visions of glory, his sudden need to be smart in an ESPN interview, and his struggles dealing with injury and loss are all described in Travis' narration, supplemented by Carter's quick commentary between chapters and occasional insertions of interviews and media reports. That naïve Travis lacks the emotional maturity to complement the strength of his game is not surprising. An absent father who has a new family in California complicates the home scene, while the mother who has been their support and guide surprisingly never quite comes into focus. A subplot about Carter's black teammate and roommate, Alex, relies on stereotype to illustrate the underside of college ball. With an astute sense of his audience, Volponi in the end returns readers to the love of the game that should be the heart of any athlete who wants to succeed in playing at the highest level.

Absorbing if flawed. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4677-9433-6

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Carolrhoda

Review Posted Online: June 1, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2016

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A fresh, beautifully written look at high school sports that sparkles with strong female athletes.

WE ARE THE WILDCATS

“The girls who played varsity last season each still nurse a secret wound, the thinnest of scabs capping a mountain of scar tissue.”

The intense pressure that Coach exerts on these former field hockey champions is far less than what they place on themselves. They are tormented by last season’s championship loss: Ali and Kearson choked; Mel, the leading scorer, didn’t score at all; and Phoebe limped off the field. This year, the West Essex Wildcats—including new members Grace and Luci—are willing to give up romance, free time, and family for the privilege of being a Wildcat. At sleepovers before weekend games the girls enjoy dinner, movies, and bonding, but on this night, the first before the new season, devastating secrets are revealed. Anyone who raised a high school championship trophy—or dreams of doing so—will find Vivian’s (Stay Sweet, 2018, etc.) book powerfully familiar and sink deeply into this juicy read. The writing is both poetic and blunt, just like the badass Wildcats. The pace may frustrate—it takes a while to grasp that the book is not about the season but a series of perspectives and shocking reveals over the course of one long night. The end, while satisfying, lacks sophistication. Most main characters are white; Ali is Korean American, and Luci is Argentinian and white American.

A fresh, beautifully written look at high school sports that sparkles with strong female athletes. (Fiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: March 31, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5344-3990-0

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale.

LEGACY AND THE QUEEN

From the Legacy series , Vol. 1

A 12-year-old girl living in a kingdom ruled by a mysterious queen dreams of attaining her sport’s highest prize.

Legacy Petrin lives and works in the financially strapped orphanage in the provinces run by her father and rises early every day to practice tennis with her old racket. After her best friend, Van, excitedly tells her about a scholarship competition for a spot at an esteemed academy and the opportunity to try out for the national championships, Legacy runs away to the city to compete. After winning, she learns there is still much she doesn’t know: The players are not just proficient in tennis, but also have magical skills that they use to their advantage. Legacy befriends Pippa, a knowledgeable girl from an elite tennis family, and acquires a builder, or coach, Javi. With Pippa and Javi at her side, Legacy makes her way through the competition, despite sabotage attempts, learning secrets about her own family along the way. Legacy is a strong character, and the secondary characters also have interesting backstories. The storyline is reminiscent of other dystopian stories, but centering tennis—with lively descriptions of matches that give a strong sense of the sport—is an unusual touch. Most characters are white, although Javi is brown-skinned, and some other characters of color are mentioned.

Magic, tennis action, and family secrets are woven into an original coming-of-age tale. (Fantasy. 9-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-949520-03-3

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Granity Studios

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

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