FIVE STAR REVIEWS
Reviewed by Sandra Hesketh for Amazon.co.uk
Fabulous read. Was hooked from before the end of the first chapter. This author is surely one to watch. Looking forward to the release of Big Brother!
Reviewed by Ellie Cox for Amazon.co.uk
Ever wondered what it would be like to have a stepmother who dresses like an `overweight fairy’? Are you a teenage girl who will battle through torrential rain and thick mud to show your talent on the football field? – Than this book is a must read!
Goalden Girl is an enjoyable read for all ages. Written from the point of view of Gemma, Goalden Girl explores what it is like for a teenage Goth girl who is dealing with the death of her parent, a bumpy start with her stepfamily, and attendance at a new school where the students struggle to accept any change to stereotypical tradition.
Although Tracey Morait could have focused on these issues with a sharp and serious eye, it was relieving to see the story remained lighthearted and entertaining. The descriptions of the characters add an extra amusement factor and the twists keep the reader guessing to the inevitable boiling point.
Even if football is not your thing, Goalden Girl still appeals to people who like a positive tale about teenage achievement and determination.
If you purchase this book, it’s guaranteed you will: laugh out loud, find yourself growling at the pack of brash boys, and cheering for a reds win. Bring on the next in the series!
Reviewed by J M Haines for Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de and Amazon.com
This Kindle title popped up randomly, and on a whim I bought it. I wasn’t disappointed, far from it.
Goalden Girl is a refreshing no frills offering from writer Tracy Morait. It is written in the first person (which is hard to do well – this is done very well), and is about a teenage girl – Gemma Sutherland. Gemma has no affected airs and graces, tells it like it is, yet she has cock-eyed dignity and integrity because of these traits rather than despite. Oh, and she is, although not quite a Tom Boy – football mad.
Although football (footy / soccer) is the anchor of this tale, it is not THE tale if you know what I mean; anything with even a touch of grit is always really about life itself: families, friends, enemies, family who are enemies, and friends who become enemies and vice versa and all changeable points in-between for all these aspects. But, Gemma is a highly skilled footy player who shines at the sport at one school, but then gets shunted to another, and, you’ve guessed it, they not only do not have girls’ football at the new school because of supposed lack of demand, it is not allowed / actively frowned upon – at first.
Ok, how to provide worthwhile feedback without introducing spoilers to any degree : let’s just say that footy, school friends and enemies and family tensions all intertwine. Tracy Morait handles these tie ups very well indeed with a direct, pacy delivery and a believable plot. It’s realistic without straying into profane dialogue (the real / core readership here is young teens and so Tracy has correctly and sensibly held back) but nor is it Enidesque, so no golly gosh in sight, no lashings of ginger beer to be consumed, and the central character goes to the Bog not the bathroom.
Gemma is also mature, wise, and sensible and brave when she really has to be, belying her at least occasional semi-gothy outlook, and we see her act and benefit from this in one or two dangerous situations for others.
The story’s sort-of-denouement as it were, and am sure we all gladly allow the writer this shift to farce, acts for me like a nod to the endings of the old Saint Trinian’s films: flour and egg bombs and if there weren’t any cries of ‘Come on, girls!’ there should have been!
I read this book in around 4 sittings, with only coffee breaks in between, so, without knowing the official category, it seems like a novella, certainly more than a short story, and it works well in this read-in-a-day format. As already said, I think, at least, that the target audience is teens, but it is interesting and fun for all ages, I can vouch for that, I’m 52 and enjoyed it tremendously. So much so, I hope we see more of footy-mad Gemma Sutherland. (Maybe there is more; am I off to check? You bet!)
Well done, Tracey Morait.
Reviewed by Michelle Myers for Amazon.co.uk
A great read for all ages, my 13 year old daughter & I both enjoyed this book immensely.
This book tells the story of Gemma Sutherland (a football crazy girl)who lost her Mum & sister in a car accident. Her Dad gets married again & not only does Gemma have to put up with a Step Mum but she has also required a younger step sister.
Gemma also struggles to fit in at her new school which does not have a girls football team.
Felt very sorry for Gemma at the beginning of this book but as the story unfolds you will find she is one tough cookie & is well able to stand up for herself.
Looking forward to Tracy Morait’s next book & so is my daughter.
Reviewed by Jayne Eaton for Amazon.co.uk
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Tracey Morait deals with some serious issues facing the protagonist (death of a parent, moving school, an unwanted extended family, bulimia) which is all handled with great humour, sensitivity and subtlety. I found myself thoroughly engrossed in Gemma’s story – the main one being the girl’s football team – but the subplots with their twists and turns keep you hanging on right until the end. I recommend this book to teenage girls and adults alike!
Reviewed by Ekbalco for Amazon.co.uk
My youngest daughter really enjoyed the book throughout. An easy to read book with an interesting storyline. I Wish I knew who said girls couldn’t play football – my daughter is living the dream since finishing the book -Well done to Tracey Morait – we await your next offering …
Reviewed by Sinbad for Amazon.co.uk
This is an interesting storyline. It is a good read for all ages. I well recommend it and look forward to the author’s next book.
Reviewed by Anne Marie Medema for ReaderViewsKids
Tracey Morait is a talented author who writes mysteries and suspense novels for young readers. In her book “Goalden Girl,” Tracey Morait winds in mystery, excitement and sports to tell the story to the reader. Tracey Morait writes in a conversational style letting the characters tell the plot. Tracey Morait uses the main characters life to explain other children’s lives.
“Goalden Girl” begins with the wedding of Gemma’s father to Shelly. Gemma is a young girl who is independent and must accept her new stepmother into her life. Due to her father’s remarriage, Gemma moves to a new school with all its challenges. Her gym teacher, Mr. Cassidy, wants girls to play soccer but the head superintendent does not approve. Tyrone, Gemma’s cousin, wants to do everything to stop the girls from forming a soccer team. Tyrone and his mates sabotage and harass the girls. When the girls finally get to play soccer, their soccer uniforms are destroyed. The girls do not know who has ruined their uniforms. Gemma’s stepsister Portia wants to attend ballet school, but she thinks she is fat and unable to dance. Portia wants to go on a diet and join a soccer team.
At one of Gemma’s soccer meets at Childwall School, Tyrone and his mates sit down on the soccer field while the girls are playing soccer. Gemma’s father is upset with this action so he and another teacher grab Tyrone and carry him off the soccer field. At a soccer game at Gemma’s old school, the LLF attacks again. At Woodgate School, Gemma’s friend Becca makes a plan. When the girls see Tyrone they are going to wave WoodGate scarves so they know from which direction Tyrone is approaching. During the middle of the game Gemma and Becca see one of the girls waving a Woodgate scarf. The LLF are attacking the soccer game. When the LLF attacks there is a whistle blown and all the girls pick up water balloons and hurl them at the LLF. Then a girl brings out a cardboard box of old eggs and sugar. The girls throw the mixture of eggs and sugar at the LLF. On the way home from the soccer game, Gemma stumbles upon Tyrone, beat up. Tyrone was beat up by his LLF mates and Gemma calls an ambulance to help. At the end of the book one of Tyrone’s good mates gives Gemma the name Goalden Girl.
I highly recommend “Goalden Girl” by Tracey Morait because it is a story mixed with humor, excitement and real-life situations. Since I am a soccer player, I related to the main character Gemma, with her interest in sports. But more so, I am just as independent and confident as Gemma is in “Goalden Girl.” Just like Gemma was in the story, I keep pursuing my interests despite what other people say or think of me. You can score a goal when you read “Goalden Girl” by Tracey Morait.
FOUR STAR REVIEWS
NEW! Reviewed by MercurySeven for Amazon.co.uk and Goodreads
The introduction of girls’ football to a secondary school in Northwest England creates plenty of drama on and off the pitch in Tracey Morait’s boisterous, very entertaining novella told from a teenager’s POV. Gemma Sutherland is frustrated on several fronts. She can’t stand her new stepmother, is irritated by her little stepsister, and really just wants to play football. Unfortunately, her new school, Naylorsfield Comp, only has boys’ teams, and she can’t afford the subs to join the local club. But Gem’s talent and leadership qualities catch the eye of a male teacher, and it isn’t long before her campaign to start up a girls’ team gathers momentum.
The predictable backlash from the boys produces some funny clashes, but it also turns nastier than I expected. Ditto the domestic drama; Gem’s sassy rebelliousness has us rooting for her, while the story also touches on serious themes like young pregnancy, bulimia, and violent crime. It’s mostly good-natured fun, though, especially when football is the focus. There are plenty of witty exchanges, and Gem’s cheeky antics are a delight.
Ms. Morait nails the northwestern working class vernacular without overdoing it. It’s close to home for me, and I think she does an excellent job portraying schoolkids from that specific part of the world. Supporting characters are lively and have their own distinct arcs. A sub-plot involving one of the teachers having a suspected affair got a bit too soapy for my liking, but its resolution did add depth to a couple of the characters. The storytelling throughout is well-paced and entertaining. Football matches don’t take up as much of the book as I expected, but they’re described well. Ms. Morait’s writing style is very natural and off the cuff.
While young adult readers are the primary audience for Goalden Girl, it’s really one for grown-ups as well. The rise of girls’ football is topical, but this story’s themes—coming of age, fighting for what you believe in, teamwork—are universal. It’s an enjoyable read, much better than anticipated.
Reviewed by Austral Scout for Amazon.com and Goodreads
Enriched with authentic dialogue and honest emotions, Goalden Girl makes a strong start with effortless exposition and punchy opening scenes. The read is made more enjoyable by the local lingo, which I’m unfamiliar with, so serves as a nice foreign foray. The blunt character descriptions and reactions are refreshing, while the school scenes are rendered with confidence.
I love a good feminist narrative, and this delivers a raw and ready contemporary one. Gemma makes a hefty share of poor choices, but somehow manages to stay likable, perhaps because she’s an underdog. In terms of quality of form, this book is edited, paced, and told as well as any trade published MG book, albeit one on the darker side.
NB: I suspect the current market’s sensitivity readers would flag MC Gemma’s step-sister’s body talk (though near the end, this receives some redemption), and that the blurb would benefit from underscoring the book as a family story, first and foremost, though footy is an important feature. Perhaps trigger warnings for eating disorders and violence would be welcomed too, in the current book climate, and since this is for younger readers.
Reviewed by Schlinks “The Gypsy” for Amazon.co.uk
I picked up “Goalden Girl” after coming across Tracey Morait’s Blog and Twitter updates, mainly because I am a football fan and it sounded like an interesting storyline. Football is touched upon in great detail and the game descriptions clearly show that the author knows her “footie”.
But this book is not about Football. This book is about real people who live all around us. People we are in contact with on a day to day basis and whose experiences we would have shared one way or another. Tracey has touched upon lots of different subjects which many teenage girls would experience these days, most importantly the impact of a parent’s second marriage/relationship on a young person’s life. Gemma Sutherland in some ways reminds me of my step-daughter and brings back memories of the ups and downs I shared with her very early on in our relationship (when she was 15!)
The various sub-plots kept me entertained throughout the book and I really found it difficult to put it down because I needed to know what next? And the main reason for that is again what I said at the start – real people. They are not perfect, sometimes not nice at all (just like someone or other we know) but they all have a story to tell. They are very believable and I could relate to them.
And this book has left me wanting to know more. Not so much about Gemma or Tyrone or Shelley, I want to hear Portia’s story. I found her to be a very interesting character and I want to meet Portia again at 15-16 years old. I want to know how she turned out.
“Goalden Girl” was written for young adults, but I think it makes great reading for people of all ages.
There is one comment I would like to make – sometimes the language is too colloquial and its possible that some readers may need a little guidance on what some of the terms mean because they are specific to a certain locality/region. While reading the book I sometimes asked my husband if a word/phrase was commonly used in Liverpool because I have heard him use it but not a lot of other people from Southern England. Terms I was not familiar with as a teenager growing up in India. Its not a criticism just something I was conscious of as I read the book and I AM contradicting myself when I say its the language made the characters more believable. Maybe a glossary next time would get rid of this?
Reviewed by Maurice Williams for Goodreads and LibraryThing
Soccer has become very popular in the United States during the past generation. Today most US school-age children are enrolled in intramural soccer teams. Soccer has long been popular in Europe, especially in the United Kingdom.
Goalden Girl is an adventure story about a young British teenager who is disappointed with an unhappy turn in her family and is also attracted to soccer. Tracey Morait has put together an interesting and well-plotted novel about young Gemma Sutherland, her family problems, and many well-described action scenes of Gemma’s soccer games.
The novel begins with Gemma Sutherland as bridesmaid at her father’s second marriage. Gemma doesn’t like her stepmother or her stepmother’s sister. Gemma is resentful because her father remarried after her mother’s tragic death almost a year ago. Both her stepmother and the stepmother’s sister are drunk at the wedding. In protest to dad’s remarriage to such a woman, Gemma decides to become Goth. While dad and the stepmother are on honeymoon, Gemma cuts her hair short, dyes it jet black, uses wax to make it stand up straight, and wears dark eye shadow and dark maroon lipstick. She tops it off with black tights full of holes, short skirt, and chains. She doesn’t like her new stepsister, Portia, either, whom she thinks is a spoiled brat and much too fat. She also doesn’t like her stepmother’s nephew Tyrone, who soon becomes her arch enemy and rival at school.
The death of her mother and her father’s remarriage has necessitated that the family move to a new neighborhood with a new school that does not support soccer for girls. Gemma’s earlier school did support girl’s soccer. Concurrent with her rebellion against the changes in her family, Gemma tries to get her new school to authorize a girl’s soccer team. She meets much resistance, especially from her stepmother’s nephew Tyrone. He and his friends continually harass the girls compromising their ability to play well and even forcing postponement of games. Mr. Cassidy, the soccer coach assigned to the girl’s team has a suspicious relationship with Gemma’s stepmother. Gemma plays sleuth and seriously complicates the relationship between her father and his new wife. The father decides to host an extended family dinner to mend things, and the dinner descends into a venomous family fight.
In the meantime, soccer has given Gemma an outlet for her frustrations and helps her meet new friends in her new neighborhood. She gradually realizes what kind of adjustments her stepmother and new stepsister have had to make, and her attitude toward them softens. Gemma’s courage and realistic outlook on life brings about a happy resolution to her problems and the problems of other characters in the novel also. Tracey Morait’s Goalden Girl is a wholesome action story for young people about problems teenagers sometimes have to face and the therapeutic effect of intramural sports. If you are interested in soccer, or if your children play soccer, you will enjoy this book. The setting for the book is in the United Kingdom. The spelling and local slang words are unique to the United Kingdom. This adds a special flavor to the novel.
THREE STAR REVIEWS
Reviewed by Alexandra for Goodreads
The football stuff was great, even the LLF was well done and the development of the character Tyrone. The side plots, though, were just too much! Too many, and subject matters treated too lightly.
I really, really did not like the whole bit about the primary aged school girl being fat shamed into an eating disorder and, you know, I understand main characters don’t have to be perfect, but it’s the light hearted way it’s treated that makes me think we’re meant to just not see the faults of the main character that had a part to play in that, and to some degree even find it all amusing.
I’ve got the sequel too which I’ll read, but the side plots were something out of eastenders and let the book down.
Reviewed by Trupti Dorge for Goodreads
After Gemma’s mother’s death, her father remarries Shelley who Gemma’s hates. She also has a young daughter Portia who is as irritating as Shelley. Gemma has her entire world uprooted when she has to leave her old school, her friends and football.
She is unable to fit in the new school. It does not have a football team either. When the PE teacher Cassidy lends his support to introduce a girl’s football team, Gemma is ecstatic. But there are guys like Tyrone and his friends who will do anything to stop the girls from playing.
Then one day among all this chaos, Gemma sees her teacher Cassidy and her step mom Shelly kissing. She thinks if her dad comes to know about the affair, Shelly and her daughter Portia would have to leave the house.
The rest of the book is about how the girls manage to form a football team and the mystery surrounding her step mom’s affair.
I have kind of have mixed feelings over this book. When I started reading it, I was like, ‘okay, not bad, I can read this’. After some time, I was like, ‘Okay, this is interesting’. But somewhere at the middle I kind of started getting a little bored. I felt the story was not moving ahead.
Then suddenly I was hooked. I wanted to know what happened to Shelly and her father’s marriage. I wanted to know what the affair between Shelly and Cassidy was. And I could certainly empathize with Gemma. As the book was from Gemma’s perspective alone, there was hardly any character development for others. But I would not put that as a negative point here, rather just an observation.The end was unexpected but interesting. This book is funny at times and overall entertaining. I would recommend it to all teenagers, especially those who love playing any team sports. The matches in the book are really well written and those into playing sports would certainly enjoy them. For those who hate football, just skip the pages with the matches in it and the read the rest. It won’t disappoint.