Monday, November 10, 2008
BOOST by Kathy Mackel
OK, I'll admit I judged this book by the cover. When I saw a girl with a basketball, I immediately thought, "Hey, there's something you don't see every day. A sports book about a girl." Anyway, I bought it, and now that I've read it, I can say my money was well spent.
Savvy Christopher is in the eighth grade. Right there you know the odds are stacked against her. The middle school years have never been known as the easy years. Savvy is battling more than just her age. She is the new girl in town. Her family is bankrupt and has had to leave their very nice home in New Mexico to move in with an aunt who runs a sheep farm in New England. Talk about a lifestyle change! On top of that, Savvy is a startling 6' 1" , soon to be 6' 3" in her stocking feet. She lives and breathes basketball, but she doesn't exactly blend into the crowd.
Savvy's story begins in July. She goes to the tryouts for the local 16 and under basketball league. She's pretty sure she has a chance at making the team, but then she runs into Gonzo, another 13 year old trying out for the team. The twist is that Gonzo doesn't plan to actually tryout. Her plan is to head on over to the other tryout being held for the 18 and under group. She convinces Savvy they have a chance with the big leagues. Amazingly, both girls show their stuff and get a call from the coach offering them a spot on the team. Now the challenge is being accepted by the older players and getting a chance to do more than just ride the bench.
In between the basketball challenges, Savvy is faced with issues at home. She finds herself helping out on the farm when Aunt Betty is laid up with a broken ankle. The hours she spends hauling around bales of hay, herding sheep, and cleaning out the barn help Savvy develop some needed muscle for the basketball court. But as the summer ball season heads into tournament play, Savvy's newly developed strength is called into question and earns her accusations of possible steroid use.
Readers who follow the plot carefully will most likely come to the logical conclusion well before the end of the book, but the non-stop action will keep them turning pages right to the end. I was pleased to see a sports book focus on girl players. Many of the girls I have as students gladly pick up the books featuring boys and they don't complain, but I'm anxious to share this one with them because they deserve to see themselves at the center of attention, too.