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Gracie Faltrain Takes Control

Gracie Faltrain Takes Control - Cath Crowley Noelle and I chat about this book at Young Adult Anonymous.How do I say this without sounding insane... Cath Crowley is my spirit author. It's like she looks at my high school self, takes a part of who I was, then a part of who I wished I was, and crafts a story that I always read at the right time.Gracie, in this book, is at her well intentioned, wholly misguided best. She is steamrolling over her best friends in her efforts to help them. Mind you, they never asked or wanted her help. In fact, they've asked her to stop. But what kind of friend would she be if she took their nos at face value and allowed them to be less than how she sees them in her mind? Confused? It doesn't matter because it makes sense to Gracie! She's a Grade 11 version of Leslie Knope but instead of government, she loves soccer. Soccer is everything and this year, it takes even more meaning because her team is trying out for the Firsts, an elite league with televised games. The competition is harder and rougher, but the potential payoff is huge. Her competitiveness and confidence, which have admirably taken her to the top of an all boys team, are faltering under the physicality of the Firsts, her inability to remove Alyce from all of Annabelle's punchlines, and Martin's distance and indifference. This is the type of book I'd usually hate. It's the dreaded middle book where the characters you fell in love with in the first book act completely opposite from how you'd expect, and all the obstacles seem manufactured to get you to a climactic third book.Gracie pushes the boundaries of friendship, likability, and, okay, common sense. Martin, our romantic hero and staunch defender of all things Gracie, is suddenly adrift. Gracie's actions alienate her friends, and also possibly, the reader. Except... that is SO Gracie. Everything she does, however cringeworthy, is backed up by her character development. And Martin is still the crushworthy guy from Book 1, just dealing with some lingering issues. What I loved about this book is that Cath Crowley went THERE. She could have easily created some superficial problems with neat, pat resolutions. She doesn't. She takes her characters on a journey, and part of the journey of adolescence are stops at Self Involvement Town and Real Consequencesville. We've all been there. I definitely see a tiny bit of myself in Gracie. After I lost a soccer match in 6th grade, I poured water on another player -- from my own team. I know. That's why I could believe Gracie did some of the ridiculous things she did, and why she had to do them in order to learn from them. This isn't an angst filled book though. It's Cath Crowley! She won't punch you in the gut without having a scene where someone gets hit in the nuts too. Gracie always goes balls to the wall and takes you on a wild ride. Onto Book 3! I'm excited for the return of multiple points of view. The side characters are so great and I missed hearing their voices.