Title: We Are the Wildcats
Author: Siobhan Vivian
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: Simon Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: March 31, 2020
Rating: 4 / 5 Stars
Source: Physical ARC provided by publisher
We Are the Wildcats is a lovely book about friendship, standing up for yourself, and the magic of girl-power. I love stories about female friendships and the bonds that are forged between women and We Are the Wildcats delivers! The story takes place over the course of one night in which the new members of the Wildcats varsity field hockey team form lifelong bonds.
To be a Wildcat is a high honor at West Essex high school, and the girls who’ve just made the varsity team worked hard for that honor. We specifically follow six of the girls, Phoebe, Mel, Grace, Ali, Kearson, & Luci. Phoebe is recovering from an injury that left her unable to play field hockey most of the summer and though she is determined to get back at it, she feels the loss of her connection to the sport. Mel is Phoebe’s best friend and team captain this year. She’s been especially rough on herself after not playing well at the end of last season and we get glimpses of an inappropriate relationship that has developed with her and Coach. Grace is a girl who is unashamed of her uniqueness and begins to find a home with this new group of varsity girls who vow to always have her back, unlike the JV team last year. Ali is the team goalie and is feeling the weight of her failure from last season. She is also Korean and is facing challenges when it comes to family life and racism. Kearson is the girl who took Phoebe’s place on the team when she was out with an injury last season. Like many of the other girls, she is feeling like she let the team down in not performing like Phoebe and she has a secret about Coach that has made her once strong relationship with her mom distant. And finally, Luci is the incoming freshman. She is the newbie to the Wildcats and is trying to stand out as a player while also fitting in as best as she can.
Throughout the course of the night, the girls have a team dinner to kick off the season; they dance and act silly, and generally try to loosen up and bond with each other. However, coach’s speech before he leaves the party changes the mood of the night. It brings out all the girls’ insecurities and Mel, as team captain, tries to reign the night back in, but finds she is thwarted by coach again when she attempts to carry out a Wildcats tradition.
As the story winds on, we see how manipulative and uncomfortable Coach’s relationships with the girls are. I think it really brings to light how important adult relationships can be with young people, and how easily they are taken advantage of. I love the girl-power and the friendships forged in the story. And while I don’t read a lot of “sports” books, I think this is the perfect balance of sports, friends, and important, relevant topics.
Thank you so much to Simon Teen for the opportunity to read and review this book and be part of the blog tour!
“We are the Wildcats, navy blue and white,
We are the Wildcats, always ready for a fight!
Don’t mess with the Wildcats, we won’t accept defeat,
For we are the Wildcats, and we just can’t be beat!
Three cheers for the Wildcats, you honor we’ll defend,
‘Cause when you’re a Wildcat, you’re a Wildcat till the end!”
-Siobhan Vivian, We Are the Wildcats
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