The Breakaways

illus. by Cathy G. Johnson. 224p. First Second. Mar. 2019. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250196941; pap. $12.99. ISBN 9781626723573.
Gr 4–8—Faith has just joined the Bloodhounds, the middle school girls' soccer C team, made up of the least skilled players. But this isn't one of those heartwarming sports stories where an inspirational coach rallies the underdogs to victory. Instead, these Dogs lose every game and feud with one another while the coach spends most practices on his phone. Vignettes show the players' varied home lives, interests, and friendship dramas. Sketchy full-color artwork features characters with exaggerated expressions. Faith and her teammates are diverse in body type and ethnicity. One player comes out as trans and another as queer during the course of the story, and both have supportive friends. Readers who like a touch of romance will enjoy seeing two sweet relationships blossom on the page. Realistic scenes of school, soccer practice, and sleepovers are interspersed with Faith's daydreams about adventures on horseback with a handsome butch royal messenger named Mathilda, who inspires Faith to unite her misfit teammates, team or no team.
VERDICT A down-to-earth friendship story for readers of Svetlana Chmakova's Awkward, Jennifer L. Holm's Sunny Side Up, and Raina Telgemeier's Drama.

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