We Ride upon Sticks

Pantheon. Mar. 2020. 384p. ISBN 9781524748098. $26.95. F
After a losing season the year before, members of the 1989 girls field hockey team from the Danvers, MA, high school decide they will do just about anything to win the state championship. As the 1692 witch trials were held in the town, it’s not surprising that these remarkably diverse athletes turns to witchcraft to secure a win, signing their names in “the devil’s book” and tying on pieces of old sweat socks as an emblem of their determination. Soon they start winning and seem to experience telepathy among themselves. Their research into the witch trials indicates that to keep winning they must perform acts of rebellion and outright destruction. This strategy seems to take them all the way to the state championship. But is it really the devil at work or simply learning to think like a team? Is the devil making them misbehave, or is it simple teenage hormones?
VERDICT Barry (She Weeps Each Time You’re Born) successfully captures the high jinks of a group of high school teens discovering themselves, learning about life, and finding out what it means to work together. Fans of coming-of-age stories will enjoy. [See Prepub Alert, 9/9/19.]

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