Liz Fichera is an author living in the American Southwest. She likes to write stories about ordinary teens that do extraordinary things. Her debut contemporary young adult novel HOOKED released from HarlequinTEEN in January of 2013. Its companion, PLAYED, will release in 2014. You can connect with her at www.LizFichera.com. Visit Liz's website and follow her on Twitter and Facebook!
DREAM BIG OR GO HOME by Liz Fichera
A few years ago, I was visiting my sister and her family in Chicago. My nephew, a tween at the time, was obsessed
with baseball. Still is, by the way, and
he’s pretty darn good at it too. But
what I remembered most about this time in his baseball career was the lone girl
who played on his team. Like my nephew,
she was baseball-obsessed.
This little girl could hit, run bases, field balls, and spit
out sunflower seeds in the dugout with the best of ‘em. I remember thinking: go, you! Dream big dreams, little one. Don’t ever be discouraged that you’re the
only girl on a boys’ team. Don’t ever be
discouraged that you might be considered different.
This little girl didn’t join the boys’ baseball team because
she was trying to make a point. She
simply loved the game and wanted to compete and the boys’ Little League was her
only option. Fortunately the coaches
recognized her enthusiasm, encouraged her and she thrived.
One of the awesome benefits of young adult fiction,
particularly contemporary fiction, is that teens get a glimpse of the what-ifs. They’re dared to dream big dreams when they connect
with relatable characters that refuse to limit themselves with societal conventions
or life circumstances. They’re shown
that risk-taking, particularly those taken in the pursuit of a passion, can
lead to accomplishment, personal satisfaction, and even unanticipated challenges
Teens dream big. They
experience emotion at lightning speed and at Richter-scale levels. But when your whole life stretches before
you, what a perfect time to test your wings.
And what better and safer place than in the pages of a book.
When I was a kid, I devoured the Little House and Little Women
books. I’m pretty sure I set the record
for having checked out On the Banks of
Plum Creek more than any other student at Roosevelt Elementary School. Nothing captured my imagination more than
reading about a fearless girl who was less concerned about being “normal” and
fitting in than venturing down roads less traveled. Bonus points were given to any novel with
main characters who lived in a culture or setting different from my own.
Fast forward to present day young adult fiction. Books like The Hunger Games and Harry Potter,
while fantasy, still contain fearless yet relatable characters that tweens and
teens devour, even as they’re battling an oppressive regime or He Who Must Not
Be Named. The storylines may evolve and change
with each new generation but the most relatable character motivations certainly
have not. Is Laura Ingalls any less
brave or fearless than Katniss Everdeenin
the pursuit of her goals or the protection of her family?
In my debut contemporary young adult novel Hooked, a Native American teen girl named
Fredricka “Fred” Oday dares to dream big dreams. She joins the all boys’ Varsity golf team at
her high school and her life changes in ways she never expected. I’ve always been intrigued by characters that
push the convention envelope in the sports arena. In Hooked,
not only does our fearless teen overcome barriers in the pursuit of golf
excellence, but she also has to battle the constraints of her own culture. Success does not—nor should not—come easily.
In twenty-five, fifty, even one-hundred years from now, I’m
prepared to bet that authors will create new worlds, new obstacles, and perhaps
even new sports. However, I’d guess that
the characters will still behave a lot like Fred Oday, Katniss Everdeen, and
Laura Ingalls but perhaps with cooler names and hipper clothes.
Liz, thank you so much for helping us launch Girls in Sports Week!
The story about the girl who loved baseball is exactly what this week celebrates. Thank you for sharing it with us, as well as your great commentary on the importance of dreams!
Title: HOOKED Author:Liz Fichera
Release Date:Jan. 29, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
When Native American Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday is invited to become the only girl on the school’s golf team, she can’t say no. This is an opportunity to shine, win a scholarship and go to university, something no one in her family has done. But Fred’s presence on the team isn’t exactly welcome — especially not to rich golden boy Ryan Berenger, whose best friend was kicked off the team to make a spot for Fred. But there’s no denying that things are happening between the girl with the killer swing and the boy with the killer smile... GET HOOKED ON A GIRL NAMED FRED. **** "Not just a Romeo and Juliet story, the book examines the conflicts of white versus Indian and rich versus poor, giving it far more heft than the average romance. Bravo." (Kirkus STARRED Review)