________________ CM . . . . Volume XXIV Number 41 . . . . June 22, 2018


Lucky Break. (Orca Sports).

Brooke Carter.
Victoria, BC: Orca, August, 2018.
171 pp., pbk., pdf & epub, $9.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4598-1641-1 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4598-1642-8 (pdf), ISBN 978-1-4598-1643-5 (epub).

Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.

Review by Ruth McMahon.

***½ /4

Reviewed from Advance Reading Copy.



My name is Lucy Graves and I am a rugby player. I'm supposed to be writing the essay portion of my scholarship application, and it has to be so dazzling that I score all the full-ride money I need to attend college. How's it going? Not so dazzling, It's nearing the end of third period, I'm in the cave-like school library holed up at one of the quiet back study tables and I'm stuck. The essay prompt is an open-ended question that I just can't answer. On the scholarship form in bold, cartoon letters is the question: WHO AM I?

I'll let that sink in for a moment.

What straight-up psycho wrote this question? How many seventeen-year-olds can answer it? Not me. After all, I'm not just one thing all the time. If there's anything true about me, its that I'm existing in a constant state of chaos. Hello, I'm in high school.

Lucy is not only a great rugby player, but she's also a math whiz. She feels most at home on the rugby pitch where she feels in control and where she can slow down her thoughts, but her math teacher wishes she would consider joining the Mathletes. As the daughter of a single mom, Lucy's father having died in a car accident saving Lucy, Lucy believes her ticket to a college education is through a full-ride athletic scholarship. So, on top of her love of the game, she is committed to securing a scholarship. Naturally, this means performing well on the pitch. When her team, the Eagles, competes against their arch-rivals, the Grizzlies, there is a great deal on the line for Lucy and for her team. During one of their matches, the unthinkable happens. Lucy breaks her ankle.

      Lucy has a great support network: her mom, her best friend and teammate Emily, a new love interest Andrew, and her therapist, Dr. Chris. They get her through her time of convalescence, including the recurrence of her panic attacks. Not without some challenges, Lucy returns to the team in time to play the Grizzles for the championship.

      Lucky Break has a solid, albeit predictable, plotline. The action carries the story, and the author, Brooke Carter, does a good job of rounding out the main characters in spite of the restrictions of this genre. The settings are neatly embedded in the plot and will be familiar to most readers.

      The timeline is fluid. As a rugby mom who has dealt firsthand with a broken foot and the pursuant recovery time, Lucy's recovery seems to be very fast. However, the average reader would most likely not notice this hiccup as s/he will be engrossed in the action and will be cheering for Lucy's return to the pitch.

      On a personal note, it is interesting the CM editor sent this book my way as the defender on the cover of this title is a University of Lethbridge Pronghorn. As Carter reveals in the "Author's Note", the girl on the front is Chanelle Edwards-Challenger – immediately recognizable to my teaching colleagues, one of whom is the head coach of the Pronghorns, another of whom is a former assistant coach, and two others all-stars from the Pronghorns three-peat Canadian Championship years 2007 to 2009. So, I would like to think that Edwards-Challenger did not break the tackle and run for a try – as suggested in the "Author's Note" – but rather was taken down by one of Lethbridge's beloved Pronghorns.

      In a school with a girl's rugby program, Lucky Break will easily find a following, but it is a good book about women in sport and has enough romance and family drama to interest other readers.

Highly Recommended.

Ruth McMahon is a professional librarian working in a high school library in Lethbridge, AB (and a rugby mom).

To comment on this title or this review, contact cm@umanitoba.ca.

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