The Gracie Faltrain Series
by Cath Crowley (Author)
Gracie is absolutely sure about what she wants and how to get it. And she's just as sure about what's right for her friends and how to make it all happen. But being sure isn't the same as being right. People are complex; relationships are in flux; and sometimes you just can't see from the outside what's really going on with your friends, your family...and certainly not your enemies.
Gracie's best intentions become over-shadowed by her self-absorption, and it takes a while for her to realise that everyone has more going on in their lives than she could possibly imagine. Part of growing up is accepting other people's choices and learning that you can't control everything on or off the field - no matter how badly you want to.
There's a building tension in Cath Crowley's 'Gracie Faltrain' series. Gracie is totally self-focused; obsessed with her soccer prowess and keen to win and prove her skill at all costs, especially as the only girl on a team of boys. She also wants to control her friends, hold her family together, and win the affections of a boy for whom she yearns.
But Gracie is reasonably well-intentioned, however arrogant and misguided. She's going to make things happen! Despite, or perhaps because of, her failings, Gracie endears us to her. We're on her side but sometimes we just want to give her a good shake! As she barrels headlong with the speed of a freight train, events unfold; and at times, the roller-coaster that is Gracie Faltrain leaves you waiting for your stomach to drop.
When things start to unravel, Gracie must take a long, hard look in the mirror at what she's become, and who she's hurt in her all-out quest for goals - both on and off the soccer field. It takes time for her to realise not everything is black and white, and that being a good friend is not about needing to 'fix' people. Her seemingly clear-cut solutions have left nothing but jagged edges, and she must work hard - harder than she ever has at soccer - to make things right.
The 'Gracie Faltrain' series is poignant, funny and moves with the speed of a soccer match. The multi-perspective narration swaps from character to character as they recount the action, addressing both the reader and each other. I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read about goals, friendships, family, and the hard task of learning about yourself. At the end of this series, it's not only Gracie Faltrain who feels a little older and wiser.