Summary: Squad Goals
In Squad Goals, Magic Pointdexter is her family’s “ugly duckling.” Her father is an ex-NBA player, her sister a famous cheerleader, and her late grandmother was also a ceiling-shattering cheerleader. Magic is awkward, chubbier than your typical cheerleader, and loves sweets more than anything else. But she’s decided: she’s going to cheer camp to try her hand out at becoming a Honeybee. Her best friend and child star Capricorn is coming with her (mostly for moral support — Cappie is an athletic, talented dancer). But once they arrive at camp and get sorted into teams by ability, Magic and Cappie’s friendship starts to show cracks.
While Magic is bonding with the “Stumble-bees” (her cheer group) and maybe making progress with her crush, Dallas Chase, Capricorn is carried away befriending the cool girls in the camp. Magic is struggling with getting fit and flexible enough, learning stunts, dealing with the breakup of a lifelong friendship, and trying to figure out who she wants to be. Can she survive Planet Pom Poms?
This was a really fun story. Magic is a likable character, complete with the awkwardness and kind heart. The camp setting, stunts, and cheer-leading experience is vivid on the page, thanks to the author’s experience as a cheerleader. I also liked seeing the diversity at the camp — one of the girls uses a wheelchair.
I love summer camp books and liked seeing the day-to-day of things. There’s a lot of focus on what Magic is eating (she really likes Twizzlers and chocolate) and one of the girls at the camp mentions that her mother restricts her diet, but the author never otherwise addresses disordered eating.
I also liked Magic’s family and the way they stood up for her throughout the story, relentlessly encouraging her and reassuring her that her goals were within reach. The author does a good job at showing that people can be more than one thing. The cool jock may be insecure about himself and his friendships and your best friend may want a life outside of your friendship.
Ultimately, as you may have guessed, this is an underdog rising to the top story. Magic gets stronger (no mention of weight loss — which I really liked) and is able to do better than she imagined. But even more, she learns a lot about team work, making real friends, and being comfortable in your own skin.
Overall: Squad Goals
Squad Goals is a feel-good summer camp story perfect for fans of friendship stories, summer camp tales, and coming-of-age books. This sporty cheer-leading story features a likable protagonist, a supportive Black family, and healthy team dynamics with zero tolerance for bullying. Overall, I enjoyed reading this and I’m looking forward to whatever this author writes next.
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I received an eARC of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.