The athletes in these books are all girls. Some of them have to fight to be allowed to be involved in a boy-dominated sport; others use their sport to work through family problems such as grief, estrangement, or financial troubles. Some are natural athletes; some find their sport a real challenge. But whether these athletes play football, swim, hike, fence, skateboard, play baseball, or do motocross, each of them will impress you with their determination and passion. Take a look at these eight empowering debuts!
🏈 GRIDIRON GIRL by Tamara Girardi, available now from Wise Wolf Books (YA)
Athletic Jules is determined to be the starting quarterback on Iron Valley High School’s football team, but when her boyfriend Owen decides to go out for the same position, Jules has to decide what to put first: her dream of being first on the field, or her relationship. https://www.22debuts.com/tamara-girardi.html
🏊🏼♀️ FLIP TURNS by Catherine Arguelles, available Sept. 13, 2022 from Jolly Fish Press (middle grade)
Thirteen-year-old swimmer Maddie has told Lucas she’s not interested in dating him, but he won’t take no for an answer. When her family’s swimming pool becomes the target of several dangerous pranks, Maddie has to wonder: would Lucas go that far to get her attention? She and her friend Ez set out to solve the mystery of who is threatening her family’s livelihood.
🚶🏼♀️ LEMON DROP FALLS by Heather Clark, available now from Jolly Fish Press / North Star Editions (middle grade)
Devastated by her mother’s sudden death, Morgan is overwhelmed by what she has to face without her: caring for her younger siblings, changing friendships, and her own anxiety. When her dad insists the family go on their annual camping trip, Morgan sets out to hike a flooding canyon trail to prove to him and to herself that she can handle life’s changes.
🤺 ONE FOR ALL by Lillie Lainoff, available now from Macmillan / FSG (YA)
Tania longs to be a fierce fencer like her father was, but she fears her chronic illness will hold her back. Then she discovers her father’s dying wish was that she attend a secret school of society women who are undercover Musketeers. Tania has finally found a place she belongs—but will her newfound sisters help her solve the mystery of who killed her father?
🏈 PLAY LIKE A GIRL by Misty Wilson, available Sept. 27, 2022 from HarperCollins / Balzer + Bray (middle grade, graphic novel)
When some boys tell seventh grader Misty that girls can’t play football, she does what any football-loving girl would do: she signs up for the team! But challenging practices and changing relationships with friends who now think she’s “weird” make it harder than she thought it would be. With support from family and new friends, Misty manages to embrace her new role on the team.
🛹 LEARNING TO FALL by Sally Engelfried, available Sept. 6, 2022 from Little, Brown for Young Readers (middle grade)
Twelve-year-old Daphne doesn’t trust her dad to be there for her because he’s let her down in the past. When she’s forced to spend the summer with him, she’s reminded of their shared love of skateboarding. They start skating together, but it’s going to take a lot of falls before she learns to ollie—or before she can trust her dad again.
⚾ THREE STRIKE SUMMER by Skyler Schrempp, available Aug. 30, 2022 from Margaret K. McElderry / Simon & Schuster (middle grade)
When Gloria’s family relocates to pick peaches at a California farm in the 1930s, it’s not the new life they were hoping for. The farm owner treats the workers unfairly and the family is just as miserable as they were in Oklahoma. The only positive thing about Gloria’s new situation is the boys’ baseball team she is determined to play on—whether they welcome her or not.
🦼AIR by Monica Roe, available now from FSG / Macmillan (middle grade)
Seventh grader Emmie longs for speed, and she’s willing to work hard to save up for an enhanced motocross wheelchair. With her dad struggling since her mom died, Emmie doesn’t want to tell him about the people who are interfering with her goal by assuming Emmie needs more help than she does, but ultimately she realizes she must stand up for herself and the rights of others with disabilities.
What book are you most excited to dive into?