2.1.2024 | Thursday

We Ride Upon Sticks

category: Book Reviews

We Ride Upon Stickstitle: We Ride Upon Sticks
author: Quan Barry
published: 3.3.2020
publisher: Pantheon
genre(s): fantasy
pages: 361
source: bought
format: eBook
buy/shelve it: Amazon | B&N | BookBub | BookHype | Goodreads

rating: four-half-stars

the blurb

From the author of the widely acclaimed

She Weeps Each Time You're Born

, a comic tour de female force about a 1980s field hockey team.

In the coastal town of Danvers, MA, home of the original 1692 witch trials, the 1989 Danvers Falcons will do anything to make it to the state finals -- even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with '80s iconography--from Heathers to "big hair"--Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective journeys of this enchanted team as they storm their way to the championship. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza, whose bleached blond "Claw" sees and knows all, the DHS Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society's stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.

  • a few notes
  • review

POV: 1st person
keywords/phrases: field hockey, witches, 80s
spice: 🔥🔥🔥
language: 🤬🤬🤬🤬

The book tells the story of the 1989 Danvers Falcons Field Hockey team. They have a long-standing losing streak, and I do mean LOSING. The team (which consists of all girls but for one boy) live in Danvers, which was once Salem Village, the infamous site of the 1692 witch trials. The area has a rich history, which leads the team to become convinced that witchcraft is the answer to ending their losing streak. And thus the story begins.

The mood of the book is very surreal. There are plenty of dark moments, but there’s also a fair amount of humor as the team members embark on their own individual journeys of growth and self-discovery.

One of the most unique things about the books is the perspective from which the story is told. It’s given in the omniscent 1st person perspective, the vague “we.” It is such a rarely used perspective, but one that really worked with the team, rather than any one individual, being at the center of the story. The only downside was that the “we” made it hard to connect emotionally with the characters.

I picked up this book for the nostalgia of it all. The characters are teenagers in the 1980s, when I too was a teenager. The pop culture references were great, bring me back to the time of big hair and copious amounts of Aqua Net. But it was unnerving to realize just how unaware most of us were to things like classism, sexism, and racism… all of which were present in this book at some level.

About Quan Barry

Born in Saigon and raised on Boston’s north shore, Quan Barry is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of four poetry books; her third book, Water Puppets, won the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and was a PEN/Open Book finalist. She has received NEA Fellowships in both fiction and poetry, and her work has appeared in such publications as Ms. and The New Yorker. Barry lives in Wisconsin.

Rating Report
Overall: four-half-stars

reading challenges:

  • 2024 52 Books Reading Challenge
  • 2024 Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge
  • 2024 Alphabet Soup: Author Edition Reading Challenge
  • 2024 Beat the Backlist Reading Challenge
  • 2024 Linz the Bookworm Reading Challenge
  • 2024 PopSugar Reading Challenge
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