Racing Hearts

Orca. (Orca Soundings). Aug. 2023. 128p. pap. $10.95. ISBN 9781459836808.
Gr 6 Up–A grieving teen decides to join a triathlon, despite facing anti-fat bullying, and falls in love in this hi-lo novel. Sienna is still grieving her best friend, Stacey, who died by suicide, when she discovers that Stacey registered them for a triathlon as a joke. With encouragement from handsome and kind jock, Blake, Sienna decides to train for the triathlon, and the two begin a sweet romance. Sienna is plus sized and has been the target of anti-fat bullying. Di Lorenzo walks an excellent line of showing that Sienna’s experience of bullying is real, but that other students are capable of respect and kindness. Readers watch as Sienna breaks down the walls she has built up around herself and opens herself to romance and new friendships. This refreshing sports story does not focus on Sienna trying to change or shrink her body; she wants to complete the triathlon in memory of her friend, and out of spite for her bullies. Another plus to this novel is that Blake likes Sienna first, and never wavers in or hides that he likes her. The book is written at a second grade reading level.
VERDICT A quick hi-lo love story for readers who know sports are for people of all sizes.

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