Joseph Friedman isn’t quite sure how he ended up on the middle school cross-country team. He’s definitely not fast, he doesn’t like to run, and he spends most of middle school trying to figure out what he’s supposed to be doing while staying under the bullies’ radar. But between his irrepressible Resource Room teacher and his new maybe-friend Heather, who doesn’t seem willing to hide her height or her un-feminine athletic talent, Joseph finds himself gasping his way through the woods several times a week in the company of other misfits. Joseph learns to cope with fatigue, loss of direction sense, and over-stimulating factors of running like goose poop on the trail and starting guns. In the process, he learns more about his friend Heather, his beloved renegade Grandpa, and his own endurance.
Sidetracked is a charming, feel-good sports story that highlights the value of persisting through failure. As the title indicates, Joseph is always getting side-tracked, in school, in life, and on the trail. He never becomes the star of the team. Even readers who do not generally opt for sports stories are likely to enjoy witnessing Joseph’s hard-won improvement.
Naomi Lesley ©2018 Parents’ Choice
Naomi Lesley taught middle and high school English for six years. She is currently in a doctoral program at the George Washington University, focusing on American young adult literature.