An uplifting underdog story that will appeal to readers interested in the immigrant experience and the surprising role...

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OUTCASTS UNITED

THE STORY OF A REFUGEE SOCCER TEAM THAT CHANGED A TOWN

An inspiring account of a young Jordanian immigrant who created Fugees, a soccer program for refugees from war-torn nations.

Adapted from an adult book of the same title, St. John tells the story of how Luma Mufleh formed a soccer team composed of young refugees from all over the world, rescued by the U.N. High Commission for Refugees and living together in a crime-ridden settlement in suburban Atlanta. After seeing refugee children playing soccer in vacant lots around town, Mufleh persuaded the local YMCA to fund a free soccer program and signed on as its unpaid coach. The children she recruited came from such war-ravaged countries as Liberia, Sudan, Zaire, Kosovo and Afghanistan. The team offered youngsters traumatized by civil war and genocide the chance to enjoy a familiar recreation and an alternative to gangs. In addition to coaching, Mufleh often acted as counselor and surrogate parent to children whose own parents worked long hours. Though insightful about immigration and the challenges of assimilation, the fast-paced account lacks sufficient detail about the experiences that forced the players to leave their home countries.

An uplifting underdog story that will appeal to readers interested in the immigrant experience and the surprising role sports can play in people’s lives. (Nonfiction. 12-16)

Pub Date: Sept. 11, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-74194-1

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: July 22, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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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

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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