I picked this book up because I’m always looking for something I think my guy readers can enjoy. I wasn’t really looking forward to reading it, but, boy, was I in for a surprise. I finished this book in just a couple of hours, and for the first time in my life I preordered a book in June that wasn’t coming out until October. My students have to have this book! Contrary to what I thought, this isn’t a book that will just have a message for my guys – this is a book that any YA reader can embrace. Five star read.
From the author of the backlist favorite You Don’t Know Me, a dramedy about the agony of victory and the thrill of defeat.
At Jack Logan’s sports-crazy New Jersey high school, the new rule is that all kids must play on a team. So Jack and a ragtag group of anti-athletic friends decide to get even. They are going to start a rebel JV soccer team whose mission is to avoid victory at any cost, setting out to secretly undermine the jock culture of the school. But as the team’s losing formula becomes increasingly successful at attracting fans and attention, Jack and his teammates are winning in ways they never expected—and don’t know how to handle.
So there are some questions I think most people will want to ask. Are my sports readers going to enjoy a book about a team who is proud to lose? Why, yes, they are because there is actually a lot of sports action. Football and soccer games are tightly narrated with all the tension of a hometown game. So, will that alienate the non-athletes? No, because as my football/soccer coach husband can attest, I have almost no real knowledge of sports. I only had to ask one question. Translation: If I can read and enjoy this, anyone can. Yeah, but this is a guy book, isn’t it? Actually, the narrative voice is male, but there is a strong female character that plays a significant role in the story. All of the significant characters have depth and that something that makes them feel like real people. Plus, the themes transcend gender and age. If you’ve ever attended a high school, you will relate to something in this book. So why would anyone want to read it? It’s smart and really pretty funny, and it tackles a lot of issues that everyone could stand to think about. Of course this book asks what it means to win or lose, but it also tackles sports culture in American high schools, bullying, social media, living for yourself, and friendship. These kids are looking for a way to avoid a stupid school requirement, but they are pretty strong in the face of adversity. I don’t think anyone could read this book and not end up cheering for this strange and hilarious mix of oddballs as they take losing to another level. This is a well written, well plotted book with complex characters and conflicts. It’s not perfect, but I thoroughly enjoyed it, and I can’t wait to share it with anyone I can get to hold still long enough to listen. Language and situations are appropriate for grades seven plus, but interest level is high school and beyond.
This book is available in our classroom library.
I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.