Cover Image: Tough Call

Tough Call

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Member Reviews

I got an ARC of this book.

I am not a fan of sports, but I really like the books from this publisher. So I gave this one a shot (get it? I can't promise any sports puns will be worth reading).

The story is interesting, but the ending happened much too quickly. The ending seemed to come out of nowhere and it was clear what Malia was going to do. I didn't have any doubts and there didn't seem to be any real suspense towards the end. It wrapped up too neatly. If there had been more antagonism at the end toward Malia for her choice for the message to really be "sometimes doing the right thing is tough and you don't get rewarded for it" I think I would have liked it better. 

There were two half romance plots in the book. Neither of them really made any sense. Victor was just there to be the bad guy. The other romance was mostly there for the friends to  have a reason to doubt her loyalty, not because they were actually into each other. Those plots were annoying to me. Boys and girls can be friends without a romance plot. I was really liking the friendship, until the chance for romance was brought up. 

I did like that Malia learns how to be a better player after becoming a ref. She learns more about the rules and learns why certain rules exist. That gives her a deeper understanding of the game. She learns that the refs serve a very important purpose and that they have an incredibly tough job. No one likes the ref. It is really easy to forget that refs are people too, especially when they keep missing things or when they seem to be favoring at team. Malia learns a lot and those lessons stood out really clear in the book and I loved that. 

The action scenes made sense. The rules were explained well. There doesn't need to be a huge knowledge of basketball to understand what is happening. I was able to follow along and again, I don't like sports. I don't like playing them and I don't like watching them. This book is very much SPORTS all the time. There is very little outside of sports. So I was not the target audience, but I can see the love the characters had for their sports. Though having three sports in the same season seems super odd. That wouldn't be allowed in any of the schools I know of. I can't imagine just how tired the best friend was. The sports I was involved in practiced every day for hours. All the sports met at the same time for practice. Games were at practice time. So there would have been no physical way to be on multiple teams. So the idea just made the character feel less realistic. Though that may be how school sports work in Canada. The best friend was rarely around and was so overwhelmed when she was that I don't really know why that character existed. 

Overall, not a bad book. Not one that I would wave around and say was the best that this publisher has to offer, but it had some of what really draws me to this publisher. Maybe this one was just too sports for me and is an amazing book. Check it out.
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Malia is in ninth grade and plays basketball. Her younger sister, Flo, is in seventh grade and also wants to play, but the fees for the two of them are really high. When Malia's coach tells them about an opportunity to make money working as referee, she spends many weeks getting trained, and then starts to work games. The problem? She occasionally has to ref for Flo's games. There is a bitter rivalry between the girls East Side school and the Boundary, and Malia is accused of helping her sister's team. She is approached by East Side kids, but always refuses to have the conversations, although a girl with whom she refs, Gloria, often tweaks tough calls to side with whomever she likes. Malia tries very hard to be fair with all of her calls, no matter what team they favor, and she even takes her reffing knowledge to better her team's defensive game. Malia has made friends with a boy who goes to Boundary, Carlos, and even brings him to a party to try to get her friends to see that Boundary kids are just as friendly as East Side ones. Flo gives Malia a hard time until she begins to understand why Malia has begun to referee, and she then appreciates her sister's hard work. 

Strengths: This had so much good information about basketball and game strategy, and the referee training was fascinating. I loved that Malia took responsibility to earn money in order to play. It was realistic that because she couldn't drive, she was assigned games at her own school. It was interesting that she had never thought about WHY her school was rivals with Boundary, and after she makes friends with Carlos, she asks around, and comes to the conclusion that the kids there are just the same. There's just enough family and friend drama to move this along, and it's great the the characters are a little bit older. Lorimer does really awesome sports stories, and I love the cover. Check out the purple nail polish!
Weaknesses: Poor Priya, Malia's friend. She's trying to do soccer, cross country AND basketball? Are those all in the same season in Canada? That would never fly in my area-- it's almost impossible to do just cross country and basketball. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing this, and making sure this author's Pick and Roll gets checked out today.
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Exactly what I was looking for as I continue to develop our schools hi-lo section. All the hallmarks of a great book that will engage struggling and hate reading readers. The characters and the conflicts between students and schools are so believable I could have been reading about my students. Plus, always looking for a great sports novel to recommend to ALL students. This is one of those novels.
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