From School Library Journal
Gr 7-9–Best friends Amanda and Lena have always been an unstoppable pair on the soccer field. Although ninth graders rarely make the varsity team, they are hopeful. But a recent growth spurt has caused Amanda to develop Sever's disease, a temporary disorder that causes significant heel pain and that has affected her game. It's still an unexpected blow, though, when Lena makes the cut and she has been relegated to JV. As much as the two girls try to pretend that their friendship won't be affected, it is; in addition to the different practices and games, Lena is socializing more with the juniors and seniors. Things come to a head when she asks Amanda to accompany her to a party so that she can meet up with a guy she likes. Unable to deceive her dad and stepmom, Amanda comes clean about the evening's activities, and Lena's parents find out where she really was. The dialogue is spot-on, and the characters are fully fleshed out. Amanda's loss of her mom when she was young and the resulting blended family are important threads. Her narration rings true with a captivating mix of teenage humor and insecurity. While there is plenty of soccer action for fans of the sport, the book will also appeal to teens looking for a solid friendship story. Halpin manages to convey the benefits of doing the right thing, but without preachiness.Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
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*Starred Review* A heel condition (as well as being a freshman in a seniority-dominated system) keeps Amanda from making the varsity soccer team. That wouldn’t be so bad except her best friend, Lena, makes the cut, plays like a star, and becomes popular to boot. Amanda, stuck playing goalie for the first time (though turns out she’s pretty good), has to deal with the mortifying crucible of entering high school without the crutch of her best bud, yet eventually she finds some friendly faces and learns a bit about what the choices you make say about you. Lena’s preference for parties and cute boys over a lifelong friend is an all-too-common high-school situation. Halpin (Forever Changes, 2008) has a knack for fleshing out a wide cast of characters and a keen ear for realistic dialogue. While he keeps the soccer-action details subdued, this is still a very sports-oriented read, and he instills a solid sense of what team sports are so good at (building confidence, creating bonds) without sounding like a tired gym teacher repeating maxims about teamwork and sportsmanship. In addition, Amanda makes her share of mistakes involving (others’) drinking and lying but responds to them in a believably smart fashion. A quick, good-natured, and perceptive read about best friends growing apart, no doubt one of the hardest parts of growing up. Grades 8-10. --Ian Chipman