Summary: Nikki on the Line
In Nikki on the Line, 13-year-old Nikki Doyle feels one step closer to her pro basketball player dreams when she gets signed on to an elite-level club team. But her mother doesn’t have enough to pay for the club, and so Nikki offers to watch her little brother after school so they can save on daycare money. Unfortunately, playing for the club isn’t nearly as easy as Nikki expects.
Shorter than her teammates and suddenly no longer point guard on the new team, she feels out of place. What’s more, her new busy schedule means she can’t hang out with the team as much as she’d like. On top of that, a new genetics project at school reminds Nikki that her biological father was a sperm donor. Between juggling all her responsibilities and proving herself a valuable member of the team, it feels like everything is on the line for Nikki.
I loved this book! Much like Swinarski’s The Kate in Between and Gerber’s Taking Up Space, this book felt real and it had such realistic, action-packed basketball scenes. I don’t like basketball, but I learned so much and enjoyed every word of description in this story (it was even better because I listened to the audiobook which is exceptional!).
Nikki is dealing with financial constraints, although her family isn’t poor by any means. It’s just that her mom is a single parent with two kids and no support (since their fathers were sperm donors — another interesting theme). Still, this book highlights what can happen when friends are more financially well-off and have the resources to support their dreams and hobbies, as Nikki’s friends’ families do. It causes a bit of strain in their friendship, especially because Nikki already feels insecure about her place on the team.
The best parts of this book for me are Nikki’s relationship with her little brother and her friendship with Booker, another student who’s also figuring himself out since his biological parents were drug addicts. Booker now has loving adoptive parents and he really becomes a stabilizing influence for Nikki. I loved, loved Nikki’s character growth throughout this story.
Overall: Nikki on the Line
Nikki on the Line is a fantastic, dynamic, and highly relatable middle grade book about identity, the ways family can be different for everyone, and pursuing a love of basketball. This fast-paced, character-driven story also focuses on evolving friendships and the value of parents being involved in their children’s lives. I loved it and nothing I say will encompass just how well-written this one is. The audiobook is equally as impressive, highly recommend!