cover image The Goalie

The Goalie

Susan Shreve. HarperCollins Publishers, $15 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-688-14379-4

Ten-year-old Julie aspires to be a goalie-it's the position she covets on the fifth grade soccer team, and it's the role she has carved out within her family, placing herself in charge of protecting her father and little sister from anyone else who would take her long-dead mother's place in the family. She has fended off capable housekeepers, and the last thing she wants is for her father to start dating Eliza True, the mother of the new boy at school, Benji, who is her biggest competition at soccer tryouts. To keep Eliza at bay, tough Julie plasters photos of her mother all over the house and tries a variety of other desperate schemes as well. Shreve (The Flunking of Joshua T. Bates) uncannily captures Julie's fierce affections and her stubborn loyalty to the fuzzy memory of her mother: ""She imagined that when she was older she would look like Alicia, that people... would exclaim, `Oh, Julie, you have come to look so much like her.' And that would give Julie a sense of accomplishment, of responsibility for the look she had achieved, for igniting her mother's memory in the people who had loved her."" But when Julie is called upon to be goalie in a championship game, she summons the courage to both guard the net and unguard her obstinate heart to those who love her. Eloquently crafted in simple, direct prose, this book is both hard-hitting and a joy to read. Ages 8-up. (Nov.)