Genre: Sports/Realistic Fiction
Age Level: 14 and up
# of Pages: 264
Pip McLeod hates it when his dad comes to his soccer games because he yells the entire time. He yells from the sidelines about every call, every play, and every score. When a talent scout for a more competitive league comes to the game Pip tries hard to do his best and has a good game, but when the scout does not choose to talk to him he has to hear about all of his mistakes all the way home. Pip has had it and no longer even likes to play. His older brother, Nick, is a great player and chosen for the elite team, which doesn’t help Pip’s feelings of failure. One day on his way home he sees that the new sports complex has a door propped open and he finds himself wandering in. He notices a big room with walls for indoor climbing and feels drawn to it. After trying a little climbing on his own, he realizes that this is something he loves to do. The problem is how to tell his parents he wants to do this and how to pay for lessons when they are on a very tight budget. In the end, Pip (who becomes Phil around the other climbers) must do what he needs to do in order to challenge himself and put himself into a more positive environment than he is used to, which means entering a very challenging competition to prove he has what it takes to be a superior climber.
For anyone who likes sports or climbing stories this is a good story. There are not that many books about climbing, especially indoor climbing, which makes this story interesting. Pip’s struggles with his family, friends, and even himself are all somewhat relieved once he starts climbing. Communication is a big issue in this story as Pip and his father fail to communicate their true feelings to each other and instead let the tension and anger build and fester. Many readers will be able to identify with Pip in some way.
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Romance
Age Level: 12 and up
# of pages: 374 p.
Sixteen-year-old Macy is still trying to cope with not only the loss of her father, but the guilt she felt over the circumstances surrounding his death. Her older sister has since moved out and gotten married and her mother has thrown herself into her work. Meanwhile her boyfriend, whom she thinks is so perfect and smart, plans to spend the summer at Brain Camp. She is supposed to take over his job at the library where his friends are incredibly mean and cold to her.
One fateful night her mother throws a business party and the caterers have some minor mishaps, which makes her mother very unhappy. Macy is recruited to go check on them and finds them fun and willing to take on challenges. Delia, the owner, is very pregnant and trying her best to keep things together. Bert and Wes are brothers who lost their mother to Cancer and only have each other to take care of. Kristy and Monica are sisters who couldn’t be more opposite as Kristy is friendly and outgoing and Monica only speaks one word at a time. Macy feels drawn to this crazy group in some way.
When Macy’s boyfriend decides to “take a break” for the summer, she finds herself contacting the catering company for a summer job. Taking the catering job makes a huge difference to Macy as she tries to deal with her own feelings of grief and those of her mother’s. At the same time, she grows closer to Wes and wonders if she needs someone who doesn’t make her feel unwanted.
The characters in this book are so believable and captivating that it is hard to put down. The issues Macy and the others are going through are so real that anyone can connect to them in some way. Family, friends, loss, closure, and communication are all themes in this book that help remind us all how important it is to take control of our own lives and not let anyone else do it for us. Highly recommended.