Thank you to author Dawn Green for providing us with a signed copy to review and give away. I haven't yet read her first book, WHEN KASEY LEFT, but I've not only put it on my TBR pile, I've moved it dangerously close to the top. (It's another YA, but not of the sporty variety.)
IN THE SWISH, published by Red Deer Press, released in Canada January 16th, but except one lucky winner from our raffle, the rest of America has to wait until May 15th.
From the back of the book:
Bennet Ryan is a superb young basketball player who propelled her team to a regional championship. But in the senior year she discovers there's a lot she doesn't know. She has to switch schools, for one thing, and learn to find in wit the team she helped defeat the previous year. What's more she confronts a far more complex world than she's been used to--a new friend who is on the autism spectrum, as well as teammates from a diversity of cultures. Finally she has to face her old team--and some old assumptions--in a dreamt playoff game. In the Swish is a coming of age story about friendships made and friendships tested set against the fast-paced world of competitive girls' basketball.
Dawn Green teaches high school and coaches basketball. Both of these facts are readily apparent in reading IN THE SWISH. She knows basketball, athletes, and high school. I felt for our main character Bennett from the very first page. I tried to imagine having to move to my rival team in high school to compete against the girls and the team I loved like family, and I couldn't imagine it. Bennett not only had to do this her extremely important senior year, but also do it with a mom as the new school principal. And yes, she does get sent to the principal's office:) The mother/daughter tension is palpable. They love each other, but can a mother who doesn't understand basketball truly understand Bennett?
I cared about Bennett, about the flack she was getting from her new school, about the distance growing between her and her old teammates, about her need to be in the gym with a ball, and about her only friend Matti. Bennett is tough and serious on the court, but she has a heart. She cares about people.
IN THE SWISH isn't only a basketball story, it's a sister story, a story of autism, and a story of learning about diversity and culture. Above all, it's a kick a** sporty girl book. I read the entire thing in less that 24 hours. It's fast and real (both to the characters and to the sport). The characters and situations walk off the page. I appreciated that it wasn't one main character and a bunch of supporting similar characters, but that each teammate had their own life and needs and issues. Coach K was one strong woman who knew what the team needed and how to make it happen. She punished Bennett and another player who couldn't figure out how to play together in brilliant Parent Trap-esqe stuck-together fashion that I absolutely loved.
One of the characters that touched me the most and made Bennett's story what it is, is her father. I wish all girls could have a dad like that. Boy, girl, young, old, we can do things. The only thing/person stopping us is ourselves.
I won't ruin the ending, but will note that I whole-heartedly approved. I look forward to many more intense sporty reads (maybe a soccer one, since she mentioned loving that sport as well) in the future.
Just a note that there is some language in this book, so I would keep to that 14-18 recommended range.
****Dawn Green was kind enough to let me interview her. Come back Thursday to learn some of her favorite sporty moments, her advice to girls trying out for a team, her favorite sporty reads, and more***
Dawn Green graduated from the University of Victoria with degrees in languages and education. She is a high school Spanish and English teacher, basketball coach, and Special Olympics BC volunteer. When Kacey Left was her first young adult novel.
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