This batch of mini reviews features books I am reviewing from ARCs. The first up is a younger middle grade novel by Renee Watson. The second is a young adult sports romance novel.
By Renee Watson
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Ryan Hart is finishing up the last months of fourth grade at Vernon Elementary in Portland, Oregon. Through the 178 pages, we get to know Ryan as she is experiencing change: moving during the school year (but staying in the same school), financial troubles since her father lost his job at a post office branch that closed down, her father starting a new job that is a third shift position, and her mother who has her own news at the end of the book. We also get to meet her two best friends: Amanda who moved to a new nicer neighborhood with her family before the school year started and Kiki, whom she gets to walk with to school each day now that she moved closer to her.
An adorable younger middle grade novel full of heart, this is a great one to give to those that are advancing up to longer chapter books. Full of friendship, family including loving parents, and sibling shenanigans, this is a delightful bildungsroman. What I particularly love about this book is that is shows a Black family in such a positive light highlighting the strong, engaged parents Ryan and her brother, Ray, have along with their grandmother, aunts, uncles, and cousins. Anyone adult who is a fan of Ramona--this is a perfect book to give to a student or child that you want to experience those feelings Ramona evokes AND put more diverse characters into their hands at the same time.
By Sarah Henning
My Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Liv needs to play softball her junior year so she can earn a college scholarship--she knows it will be only way she can afford to go to college with her mom out of work due to cancer and her family being supported only by her dad's detective salary. When she makes a split second decision to throw a punch at another girl on the rival softball team, her life has altered course. Losing her scholarship to play at her prep school, she must return to the public school--the rivals of her former school. Her mission now: to prove to her new school's softball coach she is not the hot headed player but is a true teammate. She does this by joining the school's football team after being recruited by the quarterback. Everything is not all fun and games though--she will have to keep growing and continue to stand up for what she believes.
This is a quick easy read of a female athlete having to prove her worth to a male dominated sport. While there was little that surprised me, this is still an engaging read. Those who like football and softball will get lost in the detailed descriptions of play. Those who do not enjoy these elements, might get bogged down in some cases. I liked the relationship Liv has with her parents, sister and sister-in-law, and her best friend. Having just read Break the Fall recently, I did not enjoy this one quite as much because the relationship was more vital to this story--though I understand that was an important element to this story (and I cannot say why because of spoilers). I do recommend this book, but do not expect a hard hitting contemporary blended with this sports fiction.