Initial reaction: This is a decent story, one I liked a little more than the last book I read in the “Counterattack” series. I like the focus on the characters and the fact that it features a leading character of color in the prominent role. Maddie (Madison) has a nice narrative voice, and this overarching story engaged me for the most part in blending a contemporary story with a soccer/sports story in one.
Amanda Humann’s “Out of Sync” is a fine installation in the soccer oriented, middle grade series “Counterattack.” It’s my second exposure to the series, and honestly – I liked it more than the first read I had with it. It tells the story of a young Asian girl named Maddie (Madison) who is a powerhouse of a player alongside her friend Dayton. She calls their chemistry on the field the “Sync.”
Maddie’s worried about getting scouted by some big named schools in North Carolina, including UNC-Chapel Hill and Duke. At the same time, she notices that Dayton’s faltering and making more mistakes on the field, which ends up not only affect their gameplay, but also their chances for recruitment. When Maddie confronts Dayton about it, Dayton reveals that she’s tired and wants a bit of a break. So they take a series of breaks – partying, doing what friends do, but ultimately, Maddie has to learn the difficult lesson of realizing that Dayton’s aspirations and interests aren’t necessarily in “sync” with her own.
This is a very quick read, and it felt realistic for what it offered. I thought some of the references and terms were a little dated, so it may not necessarily click with some modern young readers, but I enjoyed the overarching story and the coming to terms that Maddie has to deal with. It’s also a strong sports story, with the play-by-plays accurate to following the soccer games on field. I somewhat wish there could’ve been a little more expansion into Maddie’s background and home life, but I realize that wasn’t as big of a focus as her interactions with her friends and academic/athletic goals.
Overall, a solid read that I would recommend for MG audiences.
Overall score: 3/5 stars
Note: I received this as an ARC from NetGalley, from the publisher Lerner.