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!

BACK TO SCHOOL REVIEW: The List by Siobhan Vivian

Summary: It happens every year before homecoming- the list is posted all over Mount Washington High School. Two girls are picked from each grade. One girl is the prettiest. One girl is the ugliest. The girls who aren’t picked are forgotten, but the girls who are picked are the center of attention. Following each girl’s reaction, it’s clear that prettiest or ugliest, once you’re on the list, you’ll never been the same.

 My Rating: 4/5 Stars

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Burn for Burn Series Review

Jenny Han and Siobhan Vivian are two of my favorite YA contemporary authors, so it was about time that I read their co-authored series, Burn for Burn. The Burn for Burn series includes, Burn for Burn, Fire with Fire, and Ashes to Ashes.

Burn for Burn Summary:

Jar Island is the type of place where people don’t have to lock their doors at night and parents can sleep easily, their daughters safe and sound in bed. But even bad things can happen to good girls, and sometimes the only way to make something right is to do something wrong. After this summer, Lillia can’t trust boys, and she’ll be damned if the same thing that happened to her happens to her little sister. Kat, Jar Island’s resident bad girl, is through with all of the cruel jokes and snide remarks thrown her way. And it’s all thanks to her ex-best friend. After four years of being away because of a boy, Mary is back to Jar Island a different person. But like Kat and Lillia, Mary wants one thing: sweet revenge.

Cover Lust: Covers with people on them are hit or miss for me, but I love how all 3 books feature the same models. I’m a little bummed that the third hardcover book took on a different style when it came to the lettering. But I am obsessed with the naked look of all 3 books.

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My Ratings:

Burn for Burn: 5/5 Stars

Fire with Fire: 5/5 Stars

Ashes to Ashes: 4/5 Stars

 My Thoughts:

I didn’t give Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire 5 stars each because they were the best books that I’ve ever read. These books are just so enjoyable to read, having read each in less than two days floating around my pool. They were such a throwback to some of my first YA books, i.e. cheesily delicious books. The perfect way to describe a series, am I right?

I’m all for reading books that place near the beach or water during the summer. Burn for Burn takes place on Jar Island, starting with the last week of summer through the end of Lilia and Kat’s senior year. While it’s not a summer contemporary, since it takes over the course of one school year, there are many beach feels. We also get the occasional trip off-island to Kat’s favorite music shop and Lillia’s apartment in Boston. While it’s never explicitly said, I’m assuming that Jar Island is has a similar location to Martha’s Vineyard, off the coast of Massachusetts. Fantasy books have made me too lenient on maps.

And speaking of cheesily delicious books, one of the many reasons I enjoyed this series is because it reminded a little bit like The Clique! Most of the privilege comes from Lillia and her core group of friends, but any description of her lifestyle, let alone closet, reminded me so much of Massie Block.

But I don’t want to overstretch The Clique comparison too much because our three main characters and perspectives, Lillia, Kat, and Mary, are not bratty. Lillia is the privileged, all-American girl, Kat the bad girl, and Mary the quiet one with a hidden past. While I liked Kat more and more with each installment, Lillia was my favorite because I liked to explore her relationship and friendship dynamics. All three books definitely play around with some high school tropes, like partying and dating, but it does take some more serious topics, like sexual assault and bullying.

I went into Burn for Burn knowing there were going to be supernatural elements , but I was honestly expecting all three girls to have some sort of powers from the get-go. In reality, the supernatural element comes into the end of Burn for Burn and Fire with Fire and takes up a large part of Ashes to Ashes. Which causes you have to have some ah-ha or ohhhhhhhhh moments when thinking about the first two books. While I didn’t mind the supernatural so much, I didn’t really like its direction in Ashes to Ashes because it controlled a lot of the plot and made me scared for everyone.

Overall, the Burn for Burn trilogy is the perfect binge-worthy read, especially if you want to kick back with a high school drama type read.

Have you read Burn for Burn? What are some of your favorite binge-worthy reads? Share in the comments!