Book Review: Play Like a Girl by Misty Wilson with illustrations by David Wilson
Debut author Misty Wilson chronicles her seventh-grade experience as the only girl on her town’s football team in this empowering graphic memoir about teamwork, friendship, crushes, and touchdowns.
Misty never shies away from a challenge, on or off the field. So when the boys tell her she can’t play football, there’s only one thing to do: join their team and show them what she’s got.
But the training is rougher than she thought—and so are the other guys, who aren’t thrilled about having a girl on their team.
Middle school isn’t so easy, either. Misty wants to fit in with the popular kids, but they think a girl playing football is “weird.” Even her best friend doesn’t get it.
Can Misty find a way to score points with her teammates, make new friends, and show everyone—including herself—what it means to play like a girl?
Here’s how much I liked this book: I read it in its entirety even though the ARC only is in color for a few pages. Often I will just wait for the finished book since it’s such a better reading experience to see the completed, full-color product. But this one? I couldn’t put down.
Way back one hundred million years ago in 1990 (or, like, what feels like about ten years ago, if you’re my brain), I was in seventh grade and a few girls from my class had joined the football team. I thought that was SO COOL and something that, as a completely unathletic kid, I could never imagine doing. The whole time I read Misty’s story, I thought of them. Misty’s story is a wonderful, relatable one. Sure, she joins the football team and is the only girl, and that angle is a lot of what the story is about. But also… what does it mean to be a girl? To play “like” a girl? Or to “play” like a girl, even? Under the label of “girl,” where is Misty’s actual self? And how does she escape what this label means, in all aspects of her middle school life, to be that actual self? Never mind that in seventh grade (or, really, at any point in life) it’s difficult to really know who your real self is. Misty gets there like we all do—mistakes, hurt feelings, changing friendships, trying on different pieces of identity and personality, and eventually, thankfully, embracing the core parts of who she is, regardless of how others view her. That’s a big move in seventh grade. That’s a big move, period. So while I loved watching her play football and follow her interest despite the judgmental and at times unwelcoming atmosphere, I really loved watching her become herself. A truly fantastic look at navigating the complexities of growing up.
Review copy (ARC) courtesy of the publisher
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 09/27/2022
Age Range: 8 – 12 Years
Filed under: Book Reviews
About Amanda MacGregor
Amanda MacGregor works in an elementary library, loves dogs, and can be found on Twitter @CiteSomething.
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