FEMINIST TEAM SPIRIT: We Are the Wildcats Review

we-are-the-wildcats-9781534439900_lgSummary (from the publisher): Tomorrow, the Wildcat varsity field hockey squad will play the first game of their new season. But at tonight’s team sleepover, the girls are all about forging the bonds of trust, loyalty, and friendship necessary to win.

Everything hinges on the midnight initiation ceremony—a beloved tradition and the only facet of being a Wildcat that the girls control. Until now.

Coach—a handsome former college player revered and feared in equal measure—changes the plan and spins his team on a new adventure. One where they take a rival team’s mascot for a joyride, crash a party in their pajamas, break into the high school for the perfect picture.

But as the girls slip out of their comfort zone, so do some long-held secrets. And just how far they’re willing to go for their team takes them all—especially Coach—by surprise.

 

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My Rating: 5/5 Stars

My Thoughts:

We Are the Wildcats had been on my TBR since June 2018! Having loved Siobhan Vivian’s books, from The Last Boy and Girl in the World to the Burn for Burn trilogy with Jenny Han to my personal favorite, Stay Sweet, it’s basically guaranteed that I will read any book of hers. We Are the Wildcats especially grabbed my attention because it follows a girls’ high school field hockey team, having been a former high school field hockey player myself. Aside from Spencer from Pretty Little Liars, I’ve rarely seen field hockey in YA and I was so excited for a book that featured the sport.

We Are the Wildcats takes place over the twenty fours before the West Essex girls’ field hockey team’s first scrimmage of the season. Having lost last year’s state championship for the first time in six years last season, there is a lot of pressure on the girls to perform, most of all from Coach. Coach takes the definition of tough coach to a whole new level, but the Wildcats will do anything and everything to impress him. We follow six different characters who are dealing with this pressure and their own personal struggles:

  • Luci, the only freshman who made varsity
  • Phoebe, whose ACL strain last season left her team struggling
  • Mel, who wants to be the best team captain yet while dealing with Coach’s expectations and trying to rekindle her friendship and on-the-field chemistry with Phoebe
  • Kearson, who was pulled up from JV last season to replace Phoebe and couldn’t perform
  • Grace, who was antagonized by the JV girls last year & wants a fresh start on varsity
  • Ali, the star goalie who still struggles to reveal why she froze up during the championship game.

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Siobhan Vivian completely owned the multi-perspective game! Each perspective was totally unique, and it was easy to follow along their own journey and struggles. There was the perfect balance between plot and getting to understand what went down before this season.

I genuinely enjoyed all six perspectives, but I especially enjoyed Ali and Phoebe. I’m ready to steal Ali’s navy and white gingham dress from the Psych Up! I loved Ali’s discussion of her Korean culture and traditions- and of course her love for her baby nephew- but also her own struggles. What happened to her during the championship game made me absolutely sick to my stomach and it was interesting to follow its whole story throughout the book. Phoebe was another favorite of mine for her own flashbacks to last season, since there’s a lot to be revealed about Coach, team, and her friendship with Mel. One of the very few elements I didn’t enjoy was the animosity surrounding Kearson’s ability to perform well on varsity. For a team that is so supportive of another, I thought it wasn’t deserved at all, but it is definitely another element that gets unraveled.

We Are the Wildcats is definitely a quick read, but there is so, so many twists and revelations by the end that are so worth the ride.I don’t want to say that We Are the Wildcats is a sports book because I think readers of all backgrounds will find something to relate to, but the plot does revolve around and incorporate many elements surrounding the team. I admit that I’m probably biased because of my love for field hockey. Having played, the mention of certain drills and plays gave me flashbacks and they were so well described. You don’t need to have an understanding of the game to get these details. The purpose behind them is often to reflect the girls’ hardwork and dedication, their chemistry, and what was going through their mind during key moments or plays. There were also a lot of other relatable athlete & field hockey player moments, from Phoebe’s insight on awkward tanlines and how her dog also wanted to lick her sweat after practice (trust me, it’s a thing).

We Are the Wildcats is by no means perfect and I think that’s why I love it even more. It was really difficult to support Mel at times and she struggled to see the truth surrounding her. She fits the image of the perfect field hockey girl: her family has money and lives a very sophisticated life, she has talent, she’s just earned a spot on the college team of her dreams, and she has her captain’s letter. Readers might get annoyed with some of Mel’s actions and her support for Coach, but it was showing Coach’s influence. Coach of course was the the hardest character to read. From the get-go, there’s just this eerie sense about him. It’s one thing to have a tough coach, but it’s another to have another that will do anything to win and will do anything to get into his players’ minds. His conversation about scouts in Phoebe’s first chapter made me realize that he was such a bad guy. Although I knew there would likely being some reveals about Coach’s character and actions, they still shocked me and made me feel sick. Siobhan Vivian does such a fantastic job of putting the reader in the girls’ position.

Overall, I highly recommend checking out the We Are the Wildcats. We Are the Wildcats screams female empowerment and the importance of standing together, especially in the toughest situations.

I was sent We Are the Wildcats by the publisher in exchange for review. By no means did this affect my thoughts and opinions.

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Have you read We Are the Wildcats? Have you read anything by Siobhan Vivian? Share in the comments!

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