Jan 112024

Kirkus: For three teen competitors at the exclusive Bastille Invitational tennis tournament in Florida, there’s more at stake than the winner’s trophy.

Taiwanese American Alice Wu arrives still reeling from the loss of her father, who was also her coach. Mixed with her grief is the betrayal she feels toward the rest of her family, who hid Baba’s illness so she could have a “normal” life as long as possible. Alice receives another shock when she discovers that she’s rooming with rising tennis star Violetta Masuda, a white-passing social media influencer of Japanese and European descent. Violetta is bubbly, glamorous, and well connected, but there are cracks beneath the surface. Relentless pressure from her mother, a former professional tennis player, drives Violetta to increasingly seek relief through vaping. It doesn’t help that the dorm’s third occupant is Leylah Lê, Violetta’s former friend. Leylah holds her partially responsible for the disastrous conclusion to her previous appearance at the Bastille Invitational. Leylah, who has Type 1 diabetes and whose parents are Khmer and Vietnamese, is determined to prove that she belongs in the tennis world without compromising who she is, from her appearance to her brusque demeanor. Gracia engages readers from the start with well-developed characters whose motivations and secrets are carefully revealed over the course of the tournament. Chapters alternate between Alice’s, Violetta’s, and Leylah’s perspectives and examine trauma, addiction, class, and representation through the passion—and desperation—of elite athletes.
Compelling and memorable. (Fiction. 13-18)