In Quan Barry’s delightful, pop culture-packed novel, the 1989 Danvers High School field-hockey team is willing to do whatever it takes to play in the state finals. Danvers, a quaint town in Massachusetts, is known for its ties to the 1692 witchcraft trials, and the field-hockey squad decides to consult some dark magic in order to start winning games. Their powers may or may not come from a special pledge made to a notebook with Emilio Estevez’s face on the cover. If the plot sounds zany, that’s because it is, but Barry pulls it off through her sharp attention to detail, filling We Ride Upon Sticks with plenty of ‘80s references and teenage angst. In revealing the team members’ individual histories, the book becomes more than just a story of field hockey and witchcraft—it’s an energetic and original examination of young people wrestling with all the complicated parts of growing up.
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