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Book Review: Going For The Record by Julie Swanson

The best in children’s literature, selected by Jim Whiting.

Julie Swanson

Julie A. Swanson grew up in northern Michigan, the setting for Going for the Record. She currently lives with her family in Charlottesville, Virginia. This is her first published novel.

This book has been enjoyed by both boys and girls, athletic and not. Because the main character is a 17-year-old girl who’s very into soccer, it might appeal most to athletic girls in the 12-17 age range.

Going for the Record
Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, March 2004

Young adult (12 and up) novel

217 pages, $8.00

From Booklist (starred review):

Gr. 7-12. It’s going to be the perfect senior year. Leah has made the regional Olympic Development Team and is a sure recruit for the best women’s college soccer programs in the country. Then she learns that her ever-present, always-upbeat father has pancreatic cancer and only a few months to live. Soccer, friends, school, and even the college coaches’ calls gradually cease to be important; her family’s tight circle of love and care endures.
Swanson paints a compassionate and authentic portrait of a teen facing a parent’s death without sugarcoating the painful dying process or a family’s struggle to cope. From the initial denial, through the anger at a life and routine disrupted, to the strength and support of a loving family in crisis, each chapter, each character rings true. Without being sensational or maudlin, Swanson’s novel is real: it’s deeply sad and often painful to read, but ultimately hopeful and uplifting. Frances Bradburn

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-Leah Weiczynkowski is a promising soccer player with Olympic aspirations. The summer before senior year, she learns that her beloved father has pancreatic cancer and only three months to live. Called “obsessed with soccer” by her mom, Leah isn’t interested in parties, shopping, or hanging out with friends, and she regards Clay, an attentive male classmate, as a soccer trainer, not a boyfriend. She practices her sport intently and awaits phone calls from college coaches eager to recruit her.

As her dad’s illness progresses, the teen begins to feel selfish and guilty when family needs threaten to interrupt her schedule. Her first-person narrative conveys emotional vulnerability and growing self-reflection. Part of an extended Catholic family, Leah is comforted by her grandmother, who talks about the power of prayer.

Her father’s inexorable decline, including the arrival of hospice workers and a hospital bed in the sunroom, is portrayed with realism and pathos. With his death, Leah comes to recognize that soccer is just a game, that her relationship with Clay is important, and that what really matters is to make a difference in the world.

This powerful novel leaves the outcome undefined, but there is no doubt that Leah has grown inestimably in her understanding of the value of relationships, in her ability to accept and grieve her father’s death, and in her resolve to move ahead with living. A first-rate debut.-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT


Grandparents would be interested in this book because it deals with issues and concepts that become increasingly more important to a person as they age; coping with the illness of a family member who is close to you (in this case cancer), faith, dying with dignity and grace, dealing with the death of a parent.

As a person gets older, they want to be able to have discussions with younger family members and share what they consider to be important, but this can often be awkward to do verbally and the grandparent might feel that what they have to say wouldn’t be received well coming from someone kids often perceive as old-fashioned or out-of-touch. Handing a grandchild a book set in the contemporary world and geared especially toward their age can be an easier way to communicate and is more enjoyable for the grandchild as well.

Grandparents and children who are Christian in faith would most appreciate the book.

You can contact Julie at www.julieaswanson.com

For sample chapters and reviews: www.amazon.com/gp/product/product-description/0802852734/ref=dp_proddesc_0?ie=UTF8&n=283155&s=books

For more information about Jim, please see www.jimwhiting.com. To inquire about availability of specific titles or to send a comment, write him at jimruns3@gmail.com


Christine Crosby

About the author

Christine is the co-founder and editorial director for GRAND Magazine. She is the grandmother of five and great-grandmom (aka Grandmere) to one. She makes her home in St. Petersburg, Florida.

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