One girl’s strong spirit and love of soccer drive her to persevere in the face of adversity in this lively and engaging novel.
Irene loves soccer, a passion she inherited from her Italian father. She’s thrilled by the sound and feel of the ball exploding off her foot for a shot at the goal. At school back in Missouri, she was one of the top players on her girls’ team. But things are different in Merano, Italy, where bilingual Irene and her family have come for a yearlong stay. There’s no soccer team for girls in the small, very traditional Alpine town. Irene decides to join the highly competitive boys’ team, but she has little idea what she’s getting herself into. First, she must prove herself to the strict coach, the “mister.” And her teammates make it clear they don’t want her on the field. Especially Matteo, the team’s star player, who goes out of his way to make Irene unwelcome. But Irene does not give up easily, even when the disapproval of her Italian grandmother and the doubts of her new classmates—including her best friend, Giulia—threaten to undermine her confidence.
Author Kristin Wolden Nitz has created a complex adolescent character. Readers will root for Irene as she struggles to find her place on the team and in a new country. The story also offers a fascinating, and often humorous, look at a collision of cultures and lively descriptions of fast-paced action on the soccer field.