cover image Arcady’s Goal

Arcady’s Goal

Eugene Yelchin. Holt, $15.99 (240p) ISBN 978-0-8050-9844-0

Inspired by a photograph of the Red Army Soccer Club of 1945, of which his father was captain, Yelchin (Breaking Stalin’s Nose) tells the story of 12-year-old orphaned Arcady, whose soccer talent brings him to the attention of Ivan Ivanych, who identifies himself as a soccer coach and adopts the boy. Set in Stalinist Russia, the compact novel follows the spurts and crashes of the relationship between the two, who have both lost family—Arcady, his parents; Ivan, his wife—to the Communist party’s arrest of those deemed enemies of the state. Ivan’s efforts to tame Arcady’s roughness and help him achieve his goal of playing for the Red Army Soccer Club are hampered by his own past. Yelchin’s b&w drawings, interspersed throughout the text as both spots and spreads, add emotional depth and amplify the plot; ample soccer detail makes this a winner for fans of the sport. Readers unfamiliar with the period will benefit from reading the ending author’s note—which provides historical background without giving away any of the plot—before they embark on the book. Ages 9–12. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Oct.)