Match Point!

First ­Second. Sept. 2023. 256p. pap. $14.99. ISBN 9781250784148.
Gr 5 Up–Rosie’s dad has fond memories of his young daughter enjoying racquetball and striving to compete, but eighth grade Rosie feels like she’ll never measure up to his success as a champion. Practicing for the upcoming tournament positions Rosie and her dad as adversaries, as his encouragement turns to disapproval and her enthusiasm dissolves into defeat. Rosie sees her lack of accomplishment as evidence of failure; she begins to hate the sport and resent her father’s unattainable expectations. She hatches a plan to swap places with new friend and racquetball-enthusiast Blair to win the tournament, devising a secret serve their rival Erika won’t predict. The BFFs practice ardently as their friendship blossoms, but her efforts remain unacknowledged by her dad who continues to berate Rosie’s lack of ability. Blair loves racquetball and has a close-knit relationship with her family, who encourage her participation in sports without pressuring her to compete. Good-natured animosity exists between Rosie and Erika, who is Deaf, evidenced in Rosie’s willingness to learn ASL. Diversity in skin tone, ethnicity, and ability are represented. Panels are deftly depicted in dynamic line and color, with protagonist Rosie sporting shades of purple that make her stand out against the muted background. One anachronism may stand out post-pandemic, depicting friends sharing a soda bottle.
VERDICT This story is instantly relatable to tween and teen readers trying to live up to parental expectations while establishing their own autonomy. Recommended for libraries serving middle school students, especially where realistic sports-themed stories are appreciated.

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