Nikki on the Line

by Barbara Carroll Roberts

Eighth grader Nikki has played basketball with her best friend, Adria, since they... read more

Eighth grader Nikki has played basketball with her best friend, Adria, since they were young. Now, both are on an elite pre-high school league team. Nikki’s a great shooter, but as the team gradually gels under their wonderful coach, one of her teammate’s parents has Nikki doubting her abilities. Nikki’s struggle with her flailing confidence, drastically impacting her play, is one dimension of this story. Her changing friendship with Adria, who is spending a lot of time with new teammate Kate, is another. At school, Nikki is becoming friends with Booker, her table partner in science. Booker is adopted. Nikki’s father was a sperm donor. Neither of them wants to do the science assignment tracing a family genetic trait (an assignment the understanding teacher admits he didn’t think through). After school, Nikki is caring for her high-energy younger brother Sam—canceling his after school care was the only way Nikki’s mom could afford Nikki’s team fees, although Nikki doesn’t want anyone else to know. The various subplots are wonderfully balanced in a novel about identity and friendship, family and change that is also an action-packed sports story in which Nikki, who is white, and her diverse teammates’ passion for the game is palpable. (Ages 10–13)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2020

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