From School Library Journal
Gr 5-8–Flora Dupre loves soccer, and before her mom died of cancer, she made a promise that one day she was going to play for the U.S. Women's National Team. She dominates the team at her secondary school, but she is not being challenged, and she longs to play with more seasoned players than those in her little Maine town. She gets her chance when her coach tells her that she has been invited to Colorado for a two-week National Team Identification Camp, where she quickly finds out that things are quite different in the big leagues. The head coach seems to have it in for her with constant criticism; a clique of mean girls makes fun of her large stature; and she feels very alone in the pool of 100 girls who are just as determined as she is to get one of the few spots on the Under-15 national team. Choat's background in sports journalism is obvious. While soccer action takes precedence over any deep character development, readers will enjoy following Flora's new friendships, budding romance, and changing relationship with her father. Themes of sportsmanship and the mental and physical aspects of training are subtly woven into the story line. John Feinstein, Tim Green, and Mike Lupica have broadened the availability of engaging sports fiction with male protagonists; this is a solid purchase for collections looking to expand female representation in their sports-themed novels.–Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VAα(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
With the singleminded determination that a lot of young athletes will relate to, Flora Dupre is interested in one thing and one thing only: playing in the Olympics and World Cup as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team. She’s by far the best soccer player in the not-exactly-talent-fertile state of Maine, but when she’s asked to the tryouts for the Under-15 Girls’ Soccer Team, she encounters all sorts of physical and mental challenges that she has never dealt with before. A few subplots, especially those concerning Flora’s family back home, feel undeveloped and purposeful, and her repeated internal monologues expressing just how much she wants to play for the national team get hammered home a few too many times, but the soccer-specific details are handled quite well. Choat, a longtime sports journalist, obviously knows the ins-and-outs of an elite training facility, so teens either looking to live vicariously through Flora, or those who share her singular focus, will likely enjoy this novel. Grades 7-10. --Ian Chipman