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In These Girls, Hope Is a Muscle [School & Library Binding]

Madeleine Blais
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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School & Library Binding, October 1999 --  
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Book Description

October 1999 078578697X 978-0785786979
A look at the trials and triumphs of high-school girls' basketball chronicles one season of the Lady Hurricanes of Amherst, Massachusetts, as they learn loyalty and self-confidence on their way to a championship game. 35,000 first printing. Tour.
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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They were a talented team with a near-perfect record but a reputation for choking in the crunch of the state playoffs. Finally, after five straight years of disappointments, the Amherst Lady Hurricanes found they just might have what it took to go all the way. This is a fierce, funny, and intimate look into their minds and hearts during one very special season. A finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for nonfiction. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Publishers Weekly

When Pulitzer Prize-winner Blais pokes gentle fun at Amherst, Mass., where an infuriated teen-aged athlete in the heat of the fray may yell, "You ignore your inner child!" you suspect this will be a special book. And it is, as the reader follows the Amherst High girls basketball team-the Lady Hurricanes-in the 1992-93 season, from game one on December 15 to the final game on March 16, when they all but obliterated Haverhill, 74-36, to win the state championship. While this is the story of well-bred, upper-middle class, genteel girls who learned to be tough, it is also a picture of a changing period in American sports history, when a town rallied around its female athletes in a way that had previously been reserved for males. Alternately funny, exciting and moving, the book should be enjoyed not only by girls and women who have played sports but also those who wanted to but let themselves be discouraged.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Unfortunately Disappointed Sept. 24 2001
Although this book was well written and almost poetic at times, it was a disappointment because Madeline Blais was not able to get to the heart of these young women. I wanted to learn who the Hurricanes were, what basketball means to them and how they interacted as a team. Instead Blais spends a few short pages describing the girls then moves on to an essay about Amherst or a neighboring town. For example, we are told that Jen and Jamilla are the co-captains and a little bit about their backgrounds, families and hobbies. We are even told that they have a tenious relationship, yet we never see it. And this in effect creates a void. As a reader you realize that the element of scenes to enhance the descriptions is missing. This book is 85% exposition and 15% scene. Thus without the scenes we can not truly relate to these young women. We are told, but are never shown. I was disappointed because I expected more of a narrative and instead I got more of an essay or newspaper article.
This is where Blais' being a journalist rather than a novelist hurts her. The lack of a strong narrative results in a lack of emotion. I understand the stakes and the astonishment of the team's victories yet with the same distance as someone on the outside looking in. There are little pockets of true insight, where you see a girl get in trouble in practice, or be upset at a loss, but not as close as someone on the inside.
The bottom line is that this book is essentially about women in athletics using the Amherst Hurricanes as a way into exploring that issue. The Hurricane's ascent to the top is chronicled faithfully, yet the narrative is sometimes overshadowed by an essay on the town or Title IX, for example. In this way, it makes it difficult to really know the girls and that is unfortunate because they are really the heart of this book. I was very disappointed to finish the book feeling like I didn't really know these very special young women.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A phenomenally important book--required reading! July 11 1999
By A Customer
Every time I pick up this book I find another inspirational tidbit of wisdom to add to my quotebook, the idea of which is itself borrowed from the actions of Jen Pariseau, co-captain of the Hurricanes and role model to anyone attempting to thrive as a strong, intelligent, athletic woman. Jen is far from the book's only hero--the team as a whole stands as an affirmation to the benefits and the necessity of women's athletics. Anyone who is young, female, and devoted to a sport--any sport--will find in this book a resounding echo of the lessons they have learned through athletics, as well as an inspiration to challenge themselves and improve at whatever they do. Those who fall outside such a demographic will gain insight into a crucial world in which teenage girls are shaped into future leaders as they learn the values of hard work, cooperation, friendship, discipline, self-confidence, and devotion. This book is not simply about a team, a town, and a winning season--although even when read in such a limited focus, it is entertaining and intriguing. Rather, the Hurricanes serve as a microcosm for all that is wonderful about women's sports.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is THE best book I have read, ever. Jan. 1 1999
By A Customer
I hadn't picked up this book until very recently because I was afraid it would be all about "girl power" and the idea that women are victims. But when I finally did pick it up, it took me only 2 nights to finish. It was so captivating. This book is not so much about the feminist movement as a groups of kids coming together, and concurrently, bringing their communtiy together. Blais also tells the story of each girl and the obstacles they have faced; but not in a "I'm a victim, have simpathy," way. She tells it in an "Is that all you got? I'm gonna walk all over you," way. Inspiring. This book couldn't have been written any more perfectly. As a high school athlete, I was able to associate with so many of the rituals and emotions of the team. I am also from the Amherst area and Blais does a wonderful job of painting a picture of the communtiy and its history. I recommend this book to everyone and anyone, but it should be required reading for every female high school athlete. It is simply unbelivable. You will not be disappointed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A celebration of girls and sports Nov. 30 1998
By A Customer
IN THESE GIRLS, HOPE IS A MUSCLE, is the story of the Amherst High School Hurricanes championship season. The author, Madelaine Blais, gives detailed descriptions of the girls, their feelings, their drive and their desire, frequently using quotes from the girls themselves, their parents, the coaches, and people in the town of Amherst, Mass. These quotes along with letters and journal entries she includes, allows the reader to identify with the girls. The reader drives with Patri to the practices in her mother's beat up, old car which may or may not start; we sympathize with Jen when she talks about which of her divorced parents to wave to or hug first; we feel the desire when Jamalia describes the meaning behind Hoop Phi. In addition, Blais does an excellent job describing the town of Amherst and its somewhat eccentrically liberal population. She compares and contrasts Amherst with its neighboring towns and the rivalries with their teams. Blais uses all of these adolesent emotions and small town rivalries to build to the climax of the big game. What we have therefore, is an excellent book for anyone, male or female, interested in sports played at its purest. The book is especially recommended for girls or women who play sports, wish they did, or wish they had had the opportunity.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story, Beautifully Written
I have read dozens of books about sports, and this one ranks up there with the best. First of all, Madeleine Blais tells a great story, start to finish, of an exciting basketball... Read more
Published on March 29 2004 by William Trippe
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites
I first read this book while I was still a member of a high school girls' basketball team. While my teams never reached nearly the pinnacle that the Amherst team did, I think that... Read more
Published on Jan. 16 2004 by Jenny
2.0 out of 5 stars Hoped for More Muscle
This was probably a great magazine article before being padded out with geography and feminism history lessons. Read more
Published on Dec 28 2003 by Richard Bouchard
5.0 out of 5 stars The Agony of Victory
Blais creates an elegant tapestry which depicts the struggles of families undergoing the rite of passage of adolescence. Read more
Published on Sept. 14 2003 by Ronald P. Sen, MD
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a sports story about women by a woman
As a former sportswriter and the father of a 10-year-old girl player, this is as good as it gets at capturing the essense of the sports experience from many angles. Read more
Published on Feb. 5 2003 by Kevin Woodward
5.0 out of 5 stars In These Girls, I see My Own Daughter
If you have a daughter playing basketball at the Junior High or above level, You have to read this book! Madeleine Blais has caught the hearts and souls of these girls of Amherst. Read more
Published on Nov. 1 2001 by Tom calandriello
5.0 out of 5 stars THIS WAS AN OUTSTANDING BOOK!!!
Last season, our coach gave us the assigment of reading this book. At fist, we all thought she was crazy. Read more
Published on June 25 2001 by Laura
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL!
Hope.. is a wonderful depiction of life, sports, and growing up. I live in Northampton, MA and now play on the "hamp" team that the book talks about. Read more
Published on Nov. 26 2000
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational
The most interesting thing about this book is that the reader sees several points of view, and is usually able to relate to at least one. Read more
Published on June 10 2000
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read for future stars or anyone who loves the game
This a great book I read it at the end of my basketball season and it really inspired me. I enjoyed it. Read more
Published on May 28 2000
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