One joy of working in a bookstore is you get to see some books before they come out and can create buzz for them. The Breakaways: Bad at Soccer Okay at Friends by Cathy G. Johnson is one.
Out in March 2019 this is part of the First Second series of graphic novels dealing with today’s issues. Geared towards ages (very strong) 8 to (low) 13, we see the “C team” of a middle school girl soccer team. Faith is a fifth grader who is conned by the pretty popular girl to join the soccer team. But, of course, since Faith is less than Mia Hamm and a fifth grader, she is put on the C Team. There is a mix of girls from 5th to 8th grade and personalities. Such as the girlie girls who are more in to make-up and boys than soccer, V who has issues nobody really knows about, Sodacan who wants to make it big in her punk-band and Sammy who knows “she” is a boy and Marie who likes him.
Paragraph is one big Spoiler: If it was not for the ending (all the girls quitting the team instead of making it work no matter how many games they lose) I think this could have been a Five. Otherwise it is a strong Four. There are at least two spots that the younger crowd might not understand, or the more conservative reader is not ready for: Marie and Sammy kiss. And one girl comes out as a lesbian. Perhaps, ironically, most people will be okay with two of the girls “going behind each other’s backs” and “stealing” the guy and the “cattiness” of the girls towards each other. The other part that I found interesting was how the coach (one of the girl’s dads) has less interest in the sport than the girls do. He is not even aware there is practice one day.
This book should be read by kids and parents because it is dealing with issues girls deal with today. It might be better as a Mother/child book group or in the classroom than a solo read. Yet, if there is a safe place for the child to talk about things after, it could be a solo read.