CM . . .
. Volume XIX Number 18. . . .January 11, 2013
One Cycle. (Podium Sports Academy).
Lorna Schultz Nicholson.
Toronto, ON; James Lorimer, 2012.
137 pp., pbk., hc. & Ebook, $9.95 (pbk.), $16.95 (hc.), $7.95 (Ebook).
ISBN 978-1-4594-0183-9 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0184-6 (hc.), ISBN 978-1-4594-0185-3 (Ebook).
Grades 7-9 / Ages 12-14.
Review by Jillian Sexton.
My heart pounded through my T-shirt. One cycle was all I would need to get me through the fall field season, perfect for attracting the attention of Syracuse. Once I had my scholarship secured, I would stop the stuff and just work out extra hard in the gym.
Was I rationalizing? I could hear my father's voice in my head. "Stop rationalizing. Honesty is the only way to live your life."
"Sorry, Dad." I pounded my steering wheel with my fist. "I have to do this."
At Podium Academy, Nathan Moore is the school's star lacrosse player. He is the team captain, trains hard, and plays with passion. Nathan's only problem is that he's skinny – too skinny. It's his final year at school, and college scouts are starting to make appearances at his games. If Nathan has any hope of winning a college scholarship, he needs to bulk up, and fast! Although surrounded by people with strong moral compasses, including his dad, his coach, and his girlfriend Allie, Nathan decides that he must do everything he can to ensure his future as a lacrosse player. When he decides to take testosterone injections to grow muscle quicker, he promises himself he will only do one cycle - even though it could ruin his athletic career forever
So often, young adult sports novels are a swing and a miss. They are either light on plot and heavy on sports metaphors, or the story is so unrealistic that the characters are completely unsympathetic. Lorna Schultz Nicholson has succeeded in dodging these narrative sinkholes and has written a sports story that has both a realistic plot and a suspenseful narrative. The characters are relatable, the setting is believable, and the plot unfolds at a comfortable pace.
What is perhaps most notable about One Cycle is that it does not treat its young protagonists as cookie-cutter archetypes. Nicholson does not shy away from addressing the very real elements of teen lives – sex, drugs, alcohol, uncertainty about the future, and untamable hormones – in a truthful way. By treating the problems and issues that affect young people with honesty, Nicholson treats her characters and, by extension, her readers with respect.
If there is a criticism of One Cycle to be found, it lies in the length of the book. While the story is well-told in its short 132 pages, there are moments where the plot could benefit from more breadth. While lacrosse plays a central role in the novel, the team members and their games are often dealt with hastily. It does not hinder the overall narrative, but further detail and scenarios would certainly give the story more weight.
One Cycle is a joy to read and would appeal to young men and women alike. The story is relatable but riveting, and it stands out in the genre of young adult sport novels as a quality read.
Jillian Sexton has a B.A. (Hons) from Memorial University and is completing an MA in Communication from Carleton University. She currently lives in Ottawa, ON.
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