When I first heard about HOOKED, I wasn't, well, hooked. The cover made it seem like a straight-forward romance. But another book recently published by Harlequin Teen, PUSHING THE LIMITS by Katie McGarry, also had a super-romancy cover that threw me. That book had so much depth, though, and was full of hard issues. Harlequin Teen also recently published another novel with a hard-hitting subjects, SPEECHLESS by Hannah Harrington. I'm trying really hard not to stereotype when I see these covers from the publisher. I took a closer look at HOOKED, especially after hearing early online buzz about it, and realized just how intriguing this book was going to be. It delves into the hardships of being the only girl on an all-male sports team, of being a minority at school, of a strong father-daughter relationship, of all the trials Fredricka ‘Fred’ Oday goes through in order to achieve her dreams. HOOKED isn't a book to write off on first glance, and I'm glad I gave it a chance.
Fred isn't like all the other girls at school. She's one of a handful of Native American kids born and raised on a nearby reservation. A lot of her classmates have unsavory prejudices against the reservation kids, so Fred has always felt "different." She stands out even more when she makes the decision to join the all-male golf team at school. Not only is she the best golfer on the team, but she's also taken away someone else's spot, someone who feels that a girl shouldn't even be on the team, especially not a reservation girl. He sets out to make her life hell so that she'll quit, and becomes even angrier when his best friend starts falling for her...
I love all the diversity in HOOKED. It's one of the things I'm most drawn-to. And a Native American girl who lives on a reservation? I can't remember ever seeing a girl like Fred in YA contemporary fiction. I embraced her fully, and loved the way her community rallied around her and became so proud. She was a true inspiration to so many people, and will be to many readers as well. I wasn't as fond of her love interest, Ryan, but he grows a lot over the course of the book and really grows up. He's very human and makes mistakes, and I did like seeing a love interest that wasn't perfect for once, even if he could be aggravating at times. Fichera also did a great job developing the relationship between Fred and her father. I'm always excited to see strong parental figures in YA, and while Fred's mom wasn't anyone to write home about, her father was a great role model who supported Fred no matter what decision she chose. I was so glad to have him on her team, rooting for her against all odds and just overall believing in her throughout the book. What a great dad!
Fred is also a great inspiration for girls who want to golf--or do any male-dominated sport. She isn't afraid to go for her dream and ignores all the naysayers who pipe up after she makes the all-male team. She practices all the time and truly loves the sport. This shines through whenever she plays. Most of the guys she plays against don't have her drive and dedication, making Fred stand out even more. Fred will be a role model for so many girls, and I hope they all find a copy of HOOKED and don't give up on their dreams because of some jealous boys. She doesn't have the easiest life, but she keeps her head held high and achieves so much in life.