My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Initial reaction: Probably a solid 2.5 stars. It’s easy to pick up and I imagine this would appeal to reluctant young adult readers, but for me – aside from the decent soccer plays, the interactions that Faith has with her family, and the interaction between Faith and Caitlyn coming to terms with each other, it didn’t amount to that much. The student-teacher insinuated romantic subplot didn’t really work for me – I found it contrived for drama.
On another note, I really wish that YA publishers would not whitewash their covers. Especially considering that in the book, the MC is noted as being darker-skinned. *sigh*
M.G. Higgins’ “Offside” is a novel that’s part of a series of books called “Counterattack”. I think all of them have to do with soccer, and it seems like they’re by different authors. Considering that soccer (for the rest of the world: football) is my favorite sport ever, I thought this would be a fun read to pick up.
The story revolves around Faith Patel, a young woman who is a soccer star on the rise, lives with her mother and two younger siblings. The main plot of the story revolves around Faith playing more to her strengths, and gaining the attention of her coach. But then rumors start to fly around that her relationship with the coach might be something more. Faith isn’t sure what to do with this news, and between other events in her life that surface – between her family and a rivalry with fellow teammate Caitlyn (who seems bent on carrying the idea that the coach is favoring Faith because of said “relationship”), it’s quite a bit for the teen to swallow.
I’ll start with the positive attributes – this book is such a quick read and it took me less than an hour to go through it. The narrative flows smoothly, a reluctant YA reader could pick this up and run with it. The attention the the characters is appropriate for the context and length of the book, but there was something that made me think it could’ve been more. I’m also glad to see that this revolved around the life of a character of color – a girl of Indian heritage noting her home life and given name notation (alongside her name of “Faith”). I do wish the publisher could’ve put an Indian model on the cover that reflected the character in the book. The attention to the sports plays in this book were quite sound and fluid, and I liked that aspect of the story – a young soccer fan would probably find it easy to follow in the scheme of the story.
On the note of the plot: I really wasn’t as invested in the primary plotline of this as the secondary ones. The teacher-student insinuated relationship felt contrived and didn’t mesh right with me – felt drawn out for drama’s sake and unnatural. I was far more invested in the details of the game, Faith’s home life (particularly her chemistry with her younger siblings), and Faith’s insinuated rivalry with Caitlyn – which actually worked out better than I initially thought it would.
I thought it was worth the read, and I’m not opposed to seeing where this particular series of books goes, I just wished that the experience could’ve been a little fuller than what it was.
Overall score: 2.5/5
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Lerner/Darby Creek.