An impulsive punch in a high-profile game ends up costing softball star Olive Rodinsky almost everything she values.
High school junior Liv—or “O-Rod”—is willing to try just about anything to play again…even supercute Grey Worthington’s crazy plan that she could be his backup quarterback. Liv’s toughness and talent shine through in the detailed portrayals of football training, practices, and games; while the thrills of the sport aren’t downplayed, the hard work and injuries (the risks of concussion are a running subplot) are ever present. And if her sweet romance with Grey feels a bit rushed, the strength Liv draws from coaches, teammates, and friends comes through as rock solid. It’s an unexpected delight to read a “girl on the football team” plot that does not revolve around sexist objections (not that Liv doesn’t encounter a few); nor are homophobic attacks on her sister, her mother’s cancer, her family’s precarious financial situation or race (Liv and Grey are white; supporting characters are realistically ethnically diverse) made the focus. Instead, Liv’s major obstacle is learning to forgive and trust again: the family who doesn’t respect her decisions; the teammates who keep secrets; the boyfriend with an agenda; and, above all, her own flawed, complicated, driven, triumphant self. This charming sports story reflects classic tropes of the genre while still feeling fresh and relevant.
A winner. (Fiction. 12-18)