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Book Review: Hooked by Liz Fichera

Hooked by Liz Fichera ISBN: 9780373210725

Seth leaned closer when I didn’t answer him. He lowered his voice. “Then let me say something.” He jabbed his forefinger at me, “First, don’t lie. I am not a tool. I know why you flaked out Saturday night. I saw you.” It was as if he’d prepared for this. “I saw what you did.”

I glared at him.
A glint of satisfaction settled on his face. “We both did.”
“Who?” I blurted. But then I remembered the truck, the one that had peeled away in the dark.
“Gwyneth. We followed your ass to Pecos.”
“You followed me?” My voice rose is disbelief.

Seth began to stutter. I hadn’t heard him do that in years either. It only happened when he got really pissed. “And, s-s-s-second…” He stopped and drew in a breath to steady his speech. “Do you realize that you’re screwing your life by hanging out with that Indian?”

My body froze. “Shut. Up. Seth,” I said through clenched teeth. “Just shut up.” By now, half of Homeroom was listening, or trying to. Fortunately, the overhead speakers were turned up pretty loud.
“What do you have in common with her, anyway? Have you thought about that? And have you forgotten that she’s the reason I’m off the g-g-golf team?” Seth began to stutter again. I knew that he also was itching to remind me how his dad had been killed, but thankfully, he left that unspoken.
“You know the only reason you’re interested in her is because it’ll piss off your dad. Admit it.” Seth’s eyes grew dangerously dark, daring a contradiction.

My breathing got louder as I drew it between my teeth, glaring back at Seth.
Seth lowered his voice. “Are you going to start hanging out on the reservation now, going to powwows and shit? Have you gone totally lame?”

The Review:

When Fred Oday gets the chance to start on the boys’ varsity golf team, she knows that it won’t be easy. She’s a girl, she lives on the Reservation, and she can barely afford the clothes, let alone the fancy clubs the other guys have. The chance on the team could lead to a scholarship to college, however, which is the only way out of her otherwise dead-end future. 

Ryan Berenger cannot understand how the coach has lost his mind- letting a girl take a spot on the varsity team, without a try-out? And now Coach expects him to be her partner?  Never mind that she has a good (well, awesome) game, it’s going to be impossible, not only on the green but also in school as well.
Liz Fichera’s Hooked is much deeper than a star-crossed love story.  High-schoolers Fred and Ryan go to the same school, and are in same classes, but are never in the same circles until the golf coach discovers Fred’s natural talent at golf, and convinces her that scholarships and college await if she joins the varsity team.  However, Fred knows going in that it will be a challenge:  taking someone’s spot, being female, and being from the Gila River Indian Reservation are all strikes against her. It’s the themes of bigotry and racism that make Hooked stand out from others.  From the start, Fred is called all sorts of racist names, and the economic differences between Fred and Ryan stand out starkly.  Unlike a lot of recent female characters, though, Fred never strikes back at her tormentors, which could possibly be a result of her abusive home life.  This is also a very realistic portrait of a shy sixteen year old girl.  Readers will get engaged in Fred and Ryan’s stories, realize that not everything is perfect in either world, and wish that they will find happiness with each other.  This definitely could be paired with books like Dairy Queen or Shut Out for the sports aspects, or Perfect Chemistry or Boy Meets Boy for romance. 3 out of 5 stars.  (Rated 3.67 out of 5 stars on Goodreads as of February 10, 2013- please be aware Christie is a hard grader.)
I really liked Hooked, and enjoyed the look at golf as a high school sport.  I liked the fact that Fichera took the time to show that no one’s families were perfect- while we knew from the start that Fred’s was a little screwed up, as readers we learned pretty quickly that Ryan’s picture perfect family was as fractured as a dropped water glass.  I also enjoyed the accurate depiction Fichera painted of the Gila River Indian Reservation- we’re always lacking POC in teen fiction, and to have it brought to the forefront is refreshing.  
I thought that Fred’s reactions to the racism and bullying that she received throughout school and the team to be quite on point for a contemporary teen.  I know that we, as teen services librarians, and me personally, always want to see strong female role models, but Fred reacted exactly how a teen would react- she wouldn’t bring it up to anyone because to bring it up would make it worse, especially to a coach who lectured for a good portion the first day on how they were lucky to have a girl on the team.  There were no adults that could make her situation better, and by standing up in her own way (not quitting the team, not giving in) she was making her stand against the bullies.  And she was being a role model for those to follow after.
Ryan I had less sympathies for, and was glad that he finally got his act together near the end of the book- I could wish that he would have stood up to his friends sooner, but again, this is completely normal for a high school boy trying to figure out where he stands. 

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