Lundin, Britta. Like Other Girls. Fiction. Disney-Hyperion/Freeform, 08/2021. 384pp. $17.99. 978-1-368-03992-5. OUTSTANDING. GRADES 9-12.
It’s not easy being a closeted butch lesbian in a small conservative town in rural Oregon, but high school junior Mara has a plan: play basketball, get a scholarship, go to college, come out. But then Mara punches one of her basketball teammates, and her coach tells her she’s off the team unless she can play another team sport without incident. So Mara goes out for the football team and, after being reluctantly accepted, she’s horrified when four other girls are inspired to join, too. The author does a wonderful job of showing Mara’s journey from wanting to be one of the boys to being proud to be part of the Elkhorn Five even with the rest of the team’s growing hostility as the girls become local media stars. When Jupiter, a new arrival in town, becomes a kind and thoughtful confidant and mentor for Mara, Mara’s confidence and understanding of her identity grows further, and she decides to change her plan. The small town setting, the characters, the family dynamics, and the situations all feel authentic, and although the ending is a little wishful, it comes from the heart.
Hayley Beale, San Francisco University High School