Summary: Play Like a Girl
In Play Like a Girl, author Misty Wilson chronicles her year on the boy’s football team in her town. When she gets mocked for wanting to play football with the boys, Misty determines she’ll sign up for the team with her best friend (who’s convinced because she wants time with boys). But the training process is rigorous, and playing football is physically challenging — especially with boys. It gets harder when her bestie gives up on Misty and their friendship. Can Misty make it work? And will she rebuild her social life?
This was such a unique graphic novel. It reminded me of Roller Girl in some ways since football is a similarly physical sport. Misty struggles a bit because her mom is super occupied with her twin infant siblings and Misty’s other siblings (about three of them). Thankfully, her stepfather is engaged with football and helpful with her practice and goals.
Like many great sports graphic novels, this one does a fantastic job of bringing the sport to life. I still don’t understand how football works, but I was hooked from start to finish as Misty trained, got stronger, and became a beast on the pitch. This book also challenges gender norms because the fact that Misty likes football doesn’t make her less of a girl.
Finally, even though some girls are mean about Misty being sweaty or playing with the boys instead of being a cheerleader, Misty does find her tribe of friends, which is always heartwarming.
Overall: Play Like a Girl
Play Like a Girl is a compelling, heartfelt middle grade graphic memoir about challenging the status quo, playing football, and finding your tribe. Featuring an easy-to-root-for protagonist and well-loved sport, this graphic memoir will be a big hit for older middle schoolers discovering who they are and learning to stick to what they love regardless of public opinion.