The second book in the Pretty Tough novels is called Playing with the Boys. It can be read as a stand alone novel, but also in order because it takes place in the same high school with some of the same characters.
Being pursued by the most popular boys at school? Amazing! Running in the other direction to avoid being tackled by them? Not!
New girl Lucy Malone tries out for Beachwood soccer, but despite her amazingly accurate kick, fails to make the team. When the Coach points out that varsity football is looking for a new kicker, Lucy is skeptical. Football? Isn’t that a boys’ game?
On the gridiron Lucy discovers that she feels strong—in control for the first time since her mother died. She loves football. She actually wants to play. Will Lucy cave in to the pressure of those who don’t want her on the team? Or will she prove she’s pretty tough after all?
I loved Lucy’s character. She develops really well in her new environment, and Tigaaler really captured the feelings and growing pains of a fifteen-year-old moved to Malibu from the Midwest, at least in my opinion. I loved the plot – the successes and failures, the attempts and excitement. In reality, I don’t like football at all, but this book not only entertained me, but explained football in a way that normal people (and by that I mean non-obsessed people) would understand. I even began to long for football season to begin in my house so that I could take part in the obsessed watching of the game. It was a different view of the sport to me, and even though the idea of a girl overcoming sexism and difficulties to be the first in breaking a gender border isn’t really new, I couldn’t put this book down.
Another good thing about this book was that it wasn’t focused completely on football. It built off of Lucy’s feelings/attitude (which I love) and circumstances, such as the death of her mom and adjusting to a new school and new people. I liked the soccer parts too; I thought that it was fun to read as Lucy grew to love both sports and never give up. Even though I didn’t really like her dad all that much at first, I thought he was really well-written and the family aspect of the book was amazing. The romance in it was really nice too, and I know who everyone is going to like – there’s really no competition, even though Lucy is deluded into thinking that there is.
My favorite non-main character would probably have to be either Pickle (just for her name) or Coach Offredi – he’s very forgiveable, you see. If you can’t tell yet, I’ll let you know: I highly recommend this book for everyone. Go and read it; tell me what you think!
Next book up: Personal Demons!