10 YA Sports Novels That Knock It Out of the Park | Summer Reading 2021

Boxers, fencers, track stars, and more give it their all in these YA novels. Recommend these titles to Olympics-obsessed teens and those who just love a winning story.

Off Track / The Knockout / Fence / Along for the Ride


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Boxers, fencers, track stars, and more give it their all in these YA novels. Recommend these titles to Olympics-obsessed teens and those who just love a winning story.


Fence: Striking Distance by Sarah Rees Brennan. Little, Brown. ISBN 9780316456678.

Welcome to Kings Row, where the only thing more exciting than fencing is the boys’ funny antics while Coach tries to get them to become an actual team. Humor and romance ensue.

Gravity by Sarah Deming. Random/Make Me a World. ISBN 9780525581031.

Gravity Delgado, a scrappy half-Dominican, half-Jewish girl, dreams of becoming a champion boxer. She’s proud of her undefeated record and hopes to make a booming entrance onto the Olympic scene, but her focus is constantly at risk of being pulled in different directions.

Off Track by Tamika Gibson. Blouse & Skirt. ISBN 9789768267320.

Rising teenage track stars Kayla Francis and Joel de Freitas have various personal problems in their home of Trinidad. But running is the answer for both of them, a shared passion that could lead to fresh starts, sponsorships, and stability. The pair approaches key competitions while navigating a closer relationship with one another, balancing complicated family dynamics.

Breath Like Water by Anna Jarzab. Inkyard. ISBN 9781335050236.

Susannah Ramos is a world champion, but doesn’t much feel like one since she had a growth spurt that has slowed her down. In the year leading up to the Olympic trials, Susannah struggles to regain her speed in the water, all while dealing with her controlling coach’s expectations and the huge amount of pressure she places on herself. Then she meets Harry.

Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. ISBN 9780062847195.

One prescription is all it takes to kick-start softball phenom Mickey Catalan’s frightening descent into opioid addiction. From the horrific first line to the hopeful yet devastating conclusion, this powerful, harrowing, and compassionate story humanizes addiction and will challenge readers to rethink what they may believe about addicts.

Along for the Ride by Rachel Meinke. Wattpad. ISBN 9781989365458.

All Katelyn Jackson wants to do is play soccer, but her musician brother is touring and Katelyn is going with him. Things are not all bad, however, because the band Skyline is going on tour with Connor, and Katelyn has a major crush on one of the members. A sweet romance blossoms and Katelyn splits her time between playing soccer and the tour.

The Knockout by Sajni Patel. Flux. ISBN 9781635830590.

A female athlete in a small Texas town will prove to her conservative Indian community that strong, beautiful women come in all shapes and sizes.

Sticks & Scones by Ngozi Ukazu .illus. by author. First Second. (Check, Please!: Bk. 2). ISBN 9781250179500.

Ukazu continues the saga of small-town Georgia boy Eric “Bitty” Bittle as he begins his junior year at Samwell University and strives to balance his studies with baking, hockey, and his new long-distance relationship with former teammate and current pro hockey player Jack Zimmerman.

We Are the Wildcats by Siobhan Vivian. S. & S. ISBN 9781534439900.

Last year the Wildcats, the varsity field hockey team, had a winning season, until they lost the state finals for the first time in years. The night before the first game of the new season, the team holds the traditional sleepover to forge friendship and trust, but this year Coach interferes.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang. illus. by author. First Second. ISBN 9781626720794.

A year after publishing his well-received Boxers and Saints, graphic novelist and math teacher Yang was beset by writer’s block. But his curiosity was piqued by the Dragons, his school’s men’s varsity basketball team.

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