Beyond Lucky

Gr 4—8—Ari Fish, 12, believes in luck. Like many athletes, he has pregame rituals: reading the newspaper, checking his horoscope, and eating a particular cereal. On the day he discovers the long-sought-after soccer trading card of his hero, his luck skyrockets: he finally makes first-string goalie. But as Ari's luck increases, his friend Mac's decreases. By far the best player on the team, Mac is not having a good year and hates not being the center of attention. When Ari's card disappears, the newest team member, the first and only girl to play in the boys' league, tells Ari that Mac was the last person near his backpack. Ari must decide which is more valuable, his friendship and the status quo, or supporting and trusting someone telling the truth. Aronson does an excellent job of capturing middle-school voices. Beyond Lucky offers an interesting tale of friendship and competition that moves at a good pace, carefully interweaving the stories of the protagonist's personal and athletic growth. The soccer action will make the story extra appealing to seasoned players, but does not exclude those who are unfamiliar with the sport. While targeted toward a younger audience and not filled with as many social overtones as Chris Crutcher's Whale Talk (HarperCollins, 2001), Aronson's book provides better-than-average character development for a sports novel.—Devin Burritt, Jackson Memorial Library, Tenants Harbor, ME
Luck--and confidence--is finally on Ari's side after he acquires a rare soccer trading card and is selected as his team's starting goalie. But when the card goes missing, Ari wonders if his best friend, a hotshot forward, swiped it. Engaging subplots (Ari's brother is a smokejumper, a girl joins the team) add dimension to the quick-paced sports novel.

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