Monday, October 18, 2010

Tournaments, Cocoa and One Wrong Move

As a former high school English teacher, I am a big fan of books that show teens how to think critically and evaluate the consequences of their actions. Nancy Rue's Tournaments, Cocoa and One Wrong Move does just that.

When star basketball player, Cassidy, blows her ACL in the last game of the season, she is determined to make a comeback in time for the end of the postseason games. However, her drive to recover causes her to push herself too hard and compromise her integrity. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law offers her a "supplement" to speed her recovery, but makes Cassidy promise not to tell her parents about it. When a random drug test shows Cassidy has taken illegal steroids, everyone believes she did it on purpose. She is kicked off the team and assigned to a study hall, with "delinquents."

No longer part of a team, or the "star" of her family, Cassidy's new roles teach her about herself, but her only true comfort comes from Real Life (RL), a mysterious book she found at a coffee shop. RL turns out to be a Bible, styled after Eugene Peterson's paraphrase, The Message. In the end, Cassidy learns how to be true to herself, and a true friend.

Rue includes a personal note about the RL book at the end, and lists Scriptures used.

What I Like: Cassidy is a believable heroine, in a believable situation. Faced with tremendous pressure, she justifies poor decisions. Unfortunately, her superficial relationships with her family don't help much. However, God meets her, in the words of RL and through her Christian physical therapist. Although Cassidy's mom begins to relate to Cassidy again, we see how teens can have faith even without a strong Christian family behind them. We also see how being open-minded can lead to new friendships.

The sports culture is authentically represented. This book would appeal to female athletes in many sports, and would work well for Christian or non-Christian readers.

What I Dislike: The only thing I dislike is Cassidy ends up dating one of the rough guys from study hall. While I think it is neat she learns who he really is, and quits seeing him as a stereotypical delinquent, it seems a bit like "missionary dating." I am sure he has good intentions, but I am not sure he would know how to have a healthy relationship.

Overall Rating: Excellent, but I would recommend discussing the dating issue at the end of the book.

Age Appeal: 13-16

Publisher Info: Zondervan, 2010; ISBN: 978-0-310-71486-6; Paperback, 252 pages, $9.99

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Click here to read our reviews of other books by Nancy Rue for children and teens.

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