Quiet, sensitive Faith starts middle school already worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group that’s way better at drama than at teamwork. Although they are awful at soccer, Faith and her teammates soon form a bond both on and off the soccer field that challenges their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity.
The Breakaways from Cathy G. Johnson is a raw, and beautifully honest graphic novel that looks into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world.--from the publisher
224 pages 978-1626723573 Ages 8-12
Keywords: diversity, diverse books, fitting in, belonging, soccer, friendship, loyalty, graphic novel, popularity, cliques, middle school
Read alike: Invisible Emmie (series); Real Friends; Best Friends (Shannon Hale)
Faith is very shy, but when she starts her new school, the popular Amanda asks her to be on the soccer team. As a fifth grader, she is excited to play with older students, but isn't pleased when she ends up on the "C" team. A lot of the girls are mean, but she is befriended by Maria and Sodacan, who tell her about the quirks of her teammates and watch out for her.
Between school, home, and soccer, Faith has plenty to keep her busy, and she also draws a medieval themed, manga style comic featuring a knight named Mathilda who talks Faith through difficult trials. At one point, Sodacan asks Faith to help steal a chicken from Maria's house, there is a long time friend who moves away to be with a grandmother, Maria befriends a girl who later comes out to her as gay, and Maria starts a relationship with Sammy, who was born a girl but who identifies as male. In the end, Faith thinks that she might want to have her soccer team win for a chance, but when the team plays hard but still is losing, they all decide to leave the game and go hang out at one of their houses.
Strengths: This has a diverse cast of characters, appealing drawings, and realistically portrayed tween drama concerning friendship. Faith's desire for friends, and her difficulty making them, will speak to many students. The characters are well defined by differences in hair and facial expressions, so it wasn't hard to keep them straight. Books with girls playing sports (with any students playing sports!) are always in high demand.
Weaknesses: Faith's team doesn't really like soccer, which will put off some die-hard soccer players who pick this up. There were a lot of characters, so it was hard to follow what was going on sometimes. The inclusion of the LGBTQ+ characters was great, but they are really just introduced and not developed.
What I really think: I'll buy it, but I would have liked it more had there been fewer, more well-developed characters and a more substantial plot
Reviewed by: Karen Yingling, Library Media Specialist, Ohio USA
See more of her reviews: msyinglngreads.blogspot.com