Going for the Record
Julie A. Swanson
This book is about Leah Weiczynkowski, a senior, whose whole life is finally beginning to add up to everything she’s ever worked for. Leah is a soccer fanatic to say the least. She’s been playing forever and has dedicated her life to being the IWBTBWSPITW, I Will Be The Best Women’s Soccer Player In The World. Practicing as far as two hours from with her club team and working out at least three hours a day with her best friend Clay, Leah is about to prove herself. She’s spent the past week at a camp to try out for the Region II U-18 ODP team (Region II Under-18 Olympic Developmental Program) and makes it! The next step is trying out for the National team which puts her only one step away from the Olympics, her lifelong dream—all of her hard work is truly paying off! Until…Leah’s dad, Pete, comes to pick her up and isn’t his usual self. Within a few breaths, Leah learns her father has cancer and has three months to live. Leah is faced with several dilemmas as the story unfolds including whether or not she wants to continue to play soccer. This story tugs at your heart strings as you live in Leah’s shoes watching her father slowly die. The world is put into prospective for Leah as she learns lessons in life and death and tries to makes sense of the new world she’s living in.
This book would be excellent for a number of uses in the classroom. One of the biggest things it could be used for would be discussion of life and death. This story makes you face it face blank. Leah is forced to consider her life and weigh her priorities. She realizes her entire life has revolved around her dream of becoming the best soccer player in the world without little regard for those who were helping her become that. She realizes that while her passion is soccer, and it’s great to have passions, there’s more to life than just a game. Another theme in this book is her friendship with her friend Clay. Clay and Leah are best friends and when she pushes him away, Clay stays strong and is still there for Leah in the end. Another theme in this book is discipline and going for your dreams. When students are young, they have the world ahead of them. Up until this point in their lives basically everything has been decided for them. Now is the time that they can dream about anything and set goals and make them happen. Students often have a hard time realizing that with those goals comes discipline and sacrifice. This book is hard to handle because of the mature theme. It tugged at your emotions and made you feel so deeply for this family. It was a great read that most high school students would enjoy! - AM