cover image Shots on Goal

Shots on Goal

Rich Wallace. Alfred A. Knopf, $17 (148pp) ISBN 978-0-679-88670-9

With the same ""you are there"" immediacy that characterized his first novel, Wallace returns to the small-town setting from Wrestling Sturbridge; this time the game is soccer. Geared mostly for boys (the female teens in this novel are reduced to cats with sharpened claws), this play-by-play account of sophomore Barry (Bones) Austin's second soccer season balances sports action with introspective moments off the field. After finally breaking last year's losing streak (2-11-1), the Sturbridge High players are suddenly at 3-0 and psyched to win the league championship. But the coach says they must first ""work together"" as a team and overcome ""personality conflicts""--not an easy task for Bones, whose best friend Joe (a more aggressive forward) captured the attentions of flirtatious Shannon just when Bones was about to make his move. Wallace's ear for locker-room banter and knowledge of fragile adolescent egos shine through in his vibrant characterizations of young contenders. Young adults will gleefully cheer Bones on as he grows both as an individual and as an athlete, and hurdles personal obstacles to attain victory. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)