Friday, May 07, 2021

Guy Friday- The Fifth Quarter

It is fashionable now to get on Twitter and opine that there are no "boy books" and no "girl books". All books are for all readers! 

This just makes me wonder if these people, as well meaning as they are, have actually talked to a middle school boy or girl recently. 

It's been five years since I discussed this at length, but little has changed. Boys still come in wanting sports, war, and humor books. Girls still come in and want romance, problem novels, and mysteries. Boys still physically recoil from Hamster Princess. Girls still don't worry about who the main character is as much. 

Do boys read books with girls as the main characters? All the time. Will they enjoy The Fifth Quarter more than, say, Nat Enough? Absolutely. 

The only thing that has changed in five years is that EVERYBODY wears sweat clothes to school every day. So yeah, Twitter people might have a point about the whole "boy clothes vs. girl clothes" thing.

Dawson, Mike. The Fifth Quarter
May 11th 2021 by First Second
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Lori Block plays on a basketball team, but she and her friend Sophia only get to play in the fifth quarter, when points aren't being scored. They struggle with some issues, like double dribbling or a weak defense, but love basketball. Lori would like to do better, and maybe get on a travel team, so her parents enroll her in basketball lessons. Fourth grade is a time of a lot of tears, and Lori is easily upset by things like Sophia not wanting to play basketball at lunch, and her mother running for town council. She's worried that her groups of friends don't like her, especially since one friend's father is running for the same position her mother is. When a friend shows up at her basketball lessons, Lori isn't very kind, and her friends call her out on her lack of support, although Lori continues to make hurtful remarks. She enjoys playing basketball with one fifth grader, Jordan, and occasionally plays with Jordan and her friends at recess. She goes to a summer camp, and calls her father to come and get her at night. He is able to persuade her to stay. Lori's game starts to improve, her mother's campaign finishes up, and she is able to concentrate on school and basketball once again. 
Strengths: Lori's family is realistically busy and dysfunctional. Her mother works a lot, and her father lets her younger twin siblings spend much more time on devices than is good for them, and both parents struggle to control the children in public. I haven't really seen this reflected in middle grade literature, although I have certainly seen this in action in the aisles of Target. They do manage to get to her games, talk to her about her problems, and give her the support she needs. The friend drama is also realistic. How many elementary school friendships realign over playing basketball versus playing "unicorns". Lori manages to grow up a little over the course of the book, and is a bit more in control of how she treats her friends. 
Weaknesses: As an adult, the poor parenting really bothered me, and there was one picture at a basketball game with half the spectators glued to their phones! I am also easily distracted by noses in graphic novels, and sometimes characters' noses or mouths would just not be drawn. Had I just accepted that and not tried to search for meaning, I would have been less distracted. Not understanding basketball all that well, I also found the pictures of the action on the court less informative than text descriptions of games. 
What I really think: Definitely purchasing, especially since a sequel, Hard Court, is coming out and seems to deal with soccer. 

1 comment:

  1. Nice sounding story with a basketball focus. Some kids I know only read books that are sports related so this would make a good choice. Thanks for the heads up on this one.