July 26, 2012

Sports books for teens

Sports form the backdrop in a new series of books by Lorna Schultz Nicholson. Called the Podium Sports Academy, it follows the lives of teen athletes at an elite high school. Entrance to the Academy is through a rigorous selection process based on skills, work ethic, and previous performance results. 

These are teens who are dedicated, driven, and goal-oriented. But they're not immune from pressure and doubt. Add in raging hormones and a bit of rebelliousness, and you have teens with a fair amount of angst.

In Rookie, meet Aaron Wong, who's determined to crack the first line on the Podium hockey team. But he ends up drawing the ire of Ramsey, the tough-talking captain. When Ramsey subjects Aaron to a humiliating hazing ritual, Aaron tries hard to pretend it ever happened, but finds it more difficult than he expected.

Aaron's girlfriend, Carrie, has problems as well. In Vegas Tryout, Carrie becomes obsessed with an upcoming audition for a glitzy synchronized swim team in Las Vegas. When her coach tells her to lose weight, she takes things a little too far, putting her health and her dreams in danger.

Carrie and Aaron are believable, sympathetic characters dealing with realistic situations that many teens can relate to. Their interactions with friends and family ring true, and the balance between school and sports is well done. Nicholson writes with a deft touch that will appeal to many readers, and the stories' short length - approx. 140 pages - make them a breeze.

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