CM . . . . Volume XVIII Number 23 . . . . February 17, 2012
Trapped. (Sports Stories).
Michele Martin Bossley.
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer, 2011.
134 pp., pbk., $9.95.
Grades 5-8 / Ages 10-13.
Review by Devon Greyson.
“Great,” Mr. Jim muttered. “My backup goalie doesn’t have her equipment, and we have a kleptomaniac loose on the team.”
“Well, doesn’t that just add up to two and two,” Karianne said under her breath. Her face was very white.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I demanded.
“Think about it. Someone’s sister just got nailed for stealing at school, Hmmm, who could that be? And that same person doesn’t even have her own equipment – equipment that just went missing. Sound a little suspicious?”
Ashley’s face had turned a mottled purple. “Shut up Karianne!”
“Hey, now!” Mr. Jim put up his hands.
Ashley blinked back tears. “I’m not like my sister! I wouldn’t steal anything!” But she wouldn’t meet anyone’s gaze, not even mine.
Karianne looked sceptical. Emily, Jen, and the rest of the team kept glancing at each other, questions in their eyes. I watched Ashley, but she wouldn’t look up.
Sarah was angry. “Geez, Ashley. I would have let you borrow them if you needed them.”
Ashley gave a strangled gulp. “I didn’t do it!” She struggled not to cry.
The new season brings a lot of change to Jane’s soccer team. While Jane is excited to be striker this year, some of her teammates aren’t so thrilled with their new positions. Resentment increases when equipment and money start going missing. The prime suspect is the new goalie whose misfit sister is already accused of other thefts.
Jane isn’t so sure Ashley’s to blame. In order to continue with the team at all, however, Jane has to figure out how to pass the Foods portion of Grade 8 Home Economics. Although her improvisatory cooking style is a crowd-pleaser at home, Jane can’t seem to follow a recipe to save her life in the classroom.
While Ashley comes up with a plan that just might help Jane prove that she really can cook, Jane starts to piece together the answer to the mysterious soccer team thefts. With the team imploding, and her friendships strained by accusations, Jane has to act to save the season -- even if it means confronting her own friend in front of the whole team.
With Trapped set in a generic contemporary Canadian high school, Jane’s life is wholesome but believable. The social world of the book includes blended families and minor juvenile delinquency but focuses primarily on friendships among girls, within the context of the soccer team. There are additional themes throughout related to sibling dynamics and the injustice Jane experiences due to the rigid Foods teacher. There is a small amount of attention paid to appearance and boy-girl flirtation, but no romance theme within the story.
The book’s strengths are many, including fast-paced action, a likeable first-person narrator, and realistic conflict. It is refreshing to see well-written Hi/Lo novels that offer options for fast-paced reads that reach beyond “at-risk youth” themes and may appeal to a different demographic of reluctant readers. The greatest weakness is the unbelievably happy resolution to the Foods class storyline.
I would recommend Trapped to public and school libraries, as well as middle-grade teachers and tween leisure readers. While an appreciation of team sports may increase a reader’s enjoyment of the book, no technical knowledge is necessary to follow the quick-moving tale.
Devon Greyson is a PhD student in Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, BC.
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