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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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Hardcover --  
School & Library Binding, January 1996 --  
Paperback CDN $11.55  
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Book Description

January 1996 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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Product Description

From Amazon

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
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Story, Beautifully Written March 29 2004
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 season played by high school girls at the top of their game. But Ms. Blais makes the reader care deeply about these girls by bringing them to life as full human beings. The snapshots of their home lives, academic efforts, and personal relationships brings these girls alive. Finally, this is a thoughtful book that, without ever preaching, makes you realize that girls are naturally just as competitive and spirited as boys. Indeed, in these girls hope is a muscle. May they all live long, productive, and happy lives.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favorites Jan. 16 2004
By Jenny
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 this book captures the dynamics and ongoing relationships in sports, especially on a girls' team. Each character comes vividly to life after reading it just once, and after a few times, they seem like good friends. This book is a must for anyone who plays sports, watches sports, or is a sports parent.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Hoped for More Muscle Dec 28 2003
This was probably a great magazine article before being padded out with geography and feminism history lessons. The story of the team and girls is great, but too much non-basketball stuff. Also more about the years they didn't win to set the stage would have been nice.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Agony of Victory Sept. 14 2003
Blais creates an elegant tapestry which depicts the struggles of families undergoing the rite of passage of adolescence. Her characters embody the sacrifices which they and their families make to achieve success.
Why should you read this book? First, Blais blends humor and pathos in telling a 'feel good' story. Second, her prose and style simply inspire all readers to improve their writing. Third, she illustrates the generational transition resulting in the empowerment of women and the role athletics has played. Finally, she captures the spirit and the vicissitudes of the relationships between her characters, for example the two hour phone conversation where the team stars become friends instead of rivals.
You don't have to worship at the sports altar to enjoy this book, but it won't hurt. If you make the small effort to read this outstanding book, you may understand better how life has improved for your daughters and sons, your peers, and yourself.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, a sports story about women by a woman Feb. 5 2003
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. It's a story about women from a woman's perspective -- not a man's. The difference is what makes this a unique and insightful read. I bought it for my daughter, but I ended up reading it first. It's a "Hoosiers" story set in the 90s that is about girls, not boys. These are characters you care about -- and the fact that they're real makes it even better. Enjoy!
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5.0 out of 5 stars In These Girls, I see My Own Daughter Nov. 1 2001
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. The "side trips" into each of the players and their coach's history is an endearing and encouraging experience. By the end of the book ( which, by the way, moves very well), you will hold a warm spot in your heart for these young people, their parents and the town itself. The "Bus Ride" back through town at the end of the book will forever stay with you.
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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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