TEN: A SOCCER STORY, by Shamini Flint, Clarion Books, June 20, 2017, Hardcover, $16.99 (ages 10-12)
I’ve never been a fan of soccer. I’ve always thought of it as kind of boring. So when I received Ten: A Soccer Story, by Shamini Flint, I opened it with some trepidation.
Ten takes place in 1986 Malaysia. Eleven-year-old Maya is half-English, half-Indian. If that didn’t make her weird already, then her obsession with soccer takes her over the top. When Maya asks for a soccer ball so that she can play herself, it appears that her grandmother’s prediction that no one will ever marry her has already been set in motion.
Nevertheless, Maya follows her dreams and begins to teach herself basic soccer skills. It takes a while to convince the other students at her all-girls school to form a team, but slowly she gets them to join in.
If only life could be as simple as soccer, though. Maya finds herself questioning everything when her parents announce their divorce and Maya’s father moves back to London. Maya will do anything to get him back, even if that means pushing the all the social boundaries.
Ten is better than I thought it would be. Though soccer-centric, I did find myself enjoying the sport through Maya’s eyes. There were some parts, like her obsession with Brazil’s No. 10, Zico, that I found to be too much. This comes down to personal interest, however, and makes total sense for fans of the sport.
What I found more interesting was Maya’s personal drive and conviction. She’s not afraid to push for her dreams, even when they go against norms, particularly in 1986. I found the cultural elements equally as fascinating and would have liked Flint to go into more detail about them.
The publisher’s suggest age range of Ten is 10-12. I think that’s skewed a little too old. There’s nothing in this book that would keep me from handing it to an 8-year-old.
Overall, Ten is a strong novel that will most likely appeal to young readers who are active soccer players themselves.
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