Source: Advanced Reading Copy from the publisher.
Book Description from Publisher's Website, modified:
Everything seems to be going right for Cassidy Brewster—she’s the star of her high school basketball team, has a near-perfect GPA, and college recruiters are showing up at her games. But during the state tournament, she injures her knee. She won't be able to play for the rest of the season.
With pressures at home and at school, Cassidy becomes desperate and agrees to secretly take some supplements that will help get her back on the court more quickly. But the supplements turn out to be steroids. A teammate recognizes the signs, turns her in, and tries to take her place as star of the team. No one believes that Cassidy didn't know they were steroids. She's removed from the team and her best friends shun her. As Cassidy’s world falls apart, a mysterious book begins to speak to her, and it might just contain the answers Cassidy has been trying to find.
Tournaments, Cocoa & One Wrong Move is young adult general fiction with a romance. This is the third book in the Real Life series, but you can read the books in any order. The story was fast-paced, and the suspense grew as things got worse and worse in Cassidy's relationships at school and with her own family. Suspense also came from wondering if she'd get well enough to play again and, if so, if they'd override the rules to let her play again. I could hardly put the book down.
The world-building was also excellent, with the details about the setting, girls high school basketball, and physical therapy bringing the story alive in my imagination. The characters were realistic as were the pressures Cassidy faced. I even cried in sympathy with what she was going through. However, I thought the ending was a bit unrealistically tidy.
I was also concerned by the "bad boy" as Cassidy's romantic match. I'm all for getting to know people that are different from you rather than scorning them based on preconceptions. However, Cassidy's father was portrayed as unreasonable when he expressed concern about her friendship with the "trouble" kids. Granted, his stated reasons were bad ones (appearances), but I'd have a talk with my child if they started hanging out with "the bad crowd." Though it works out for Cassidy in the novel, peer pressure usually works the other way around in real life.
Christians and non-Christians were portrayed realistically with both the good and the bad. Cassidy finds a book, "RL," that's like a Bible and gives her guidance about her situation. The personalized & paraphrased stories seemed to be more loosely based on the Bible verses than previously, and I sometimes felt like the wording or conclusion was changed a bit to make it fit the author's point. Also, this time I usually didn't see how the stories even related to Cassidy's situation. Granted, everything was tied together into an a-ha moment near the end, but I prefer how the RL book was handled in the previous two books.
There was a very minor amount of bad language in the "he cussed" or "Don't say it!" style. There was no sex. Overall, I'd recommend this novel as well-written, clean reading.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
It was the best night of my life, it was the worst night of my life.
I think we read a book in Junior Honors English that started something like that. I couldn’t tell you the title now. I usually forget stuff like that the day after the test.
Anyway, that night Honors English was the last thing on my mind. So was AP Chemistry and the crush I had on the guy who bagged my mother’s groceries. All I was thinking about was basketball.
Specifically the fourth quarter of the game against Monument Valley High, which we had to win to take the county title. Actually, which I had to win. When Monument Valley called a long time-out — like, all of a minute long — Coach Deetz pulled us all into what he called a “puddle” (a “huddle” to any other coach), but his beady browns zinged to me at the end of every question. I was used to it.
“What’s the score, ladies?”
“Sixty-eight, sixty-eight,” Kara said beside me.
A half dozen of my best friend’s blonde curls had escaped from that messy bun thing she always did with her hair for games, and they were sweat-plastered to her temples. She could shoot with deadeye accuracy like nobody in El Paso County, but when the score got this close she usually choked. Reason number one why Coach’s eyes kept flicking to me.
“And how much time is left on the clock?” he said.
“A minute thirty seconds,” M.J. Martinez said, her voice so gone you could barely hear her accent.
Read more of chapter one.