Rachel has really been improving her soccer game and coach has started letting her play on offense. She even bends the rules to let Rachel off for a last-minute doctor’s appointment. Unfortunately, the doctor has bad news: Rachel has developed a curvature in her spine – scholiosis – and will need to wear a back brace for at least the next six months for most of the day. Suddenly, all of Rachel’s dreams (soccer, most of all) are threatened by having to wear the hideous uncomfortable appliance. It makes every movement uncomfortable and derails her game. Soon, coach has her back on defense and won’t even let her start. She hates the way she looks in it and the way people look at her, but most of all she hates feeling like a freak.
A sensitive and insightful middle reader about a health issue of relevance to its target audience. Many girls develop spinal issues in middle school or have a classmate who does. As the only boy in my class who was diagnosed with scholiosis (I was lucky enough to not need a brace), this particular story spoke to me directly and I think I might have enjoyed a book like it at the time.
Gerber has done an excellent job creating a story that is entertaining to read, yet full of facts about the disease and its treatment. That the characters are authentic and interesting is a bonus, as are the realistic family interactions. For me, stories stand out when they either do something new (rare) or take on an issue which has been written about before. This is a good example of the latter.