Thursday, December 1, 2011

ARC Review: Singled Out by Sara Griffiths

Singled Out
Author: Sara Griffiths
Publication: Bancroft Press; First edition (December 1, 2011)

Description: There was a time when all was right in Taylor Dresden's world--that is, as long as she was on the baseball diamond, pitching with all her heart.

But that was years ago.

Now, as she heads toward her senior year, the magic is gone. There's no competition in her New Jersey high school, and summer league is not much better. With the scouts losing interest on account of her poor grades, and with the challenge of the game gone, Taylor has made a difficult decision: She won t be playing her senior year.

Everything changes when a local, elite, all-boys prep school recruits Taylor for its own baseball team. One of the first three girls ever to attend, Taylor begins to see that she genuinely does have the opportunity to create some real change in her life, her way--and just maybe for the better.

But the Hazelton School is a rich boy's world, its student body run by the Statesmen--an organization determined to force Taylor and the other girls out of their school. Their leader, Sam Barrett, may well be more than he seems, but in a school where not only the sports, but the classes too, are harder than ever, Taylor may never have a chance to find out.

Taylor knows she's a great pitcher, but can she be a great student? Can she succeed in the face of devious boys who will stop at nothing to get rid of her? Will she rise above them or sink to their level--or will she be gone before she can do either?

My Thoughts: I enjoyed this story of the first girl to attend a boys' private school. She was offered a scholarship because she is very good at baseball. Of course, there is also something political. The school is facing a discrimination suit from a female teacher who was fired. But Taylor is using them too. This is her shot to improve her grades and be noticed by college baseball scouts.

Taylor has a lot of things to face. She has to get used to being away from home and family. She also has to deal with hostility and harassment from a secret Clique - the Statesman - who don't want a girl at their school.
Taylor was one of three girls who began the year. The first - a black basketball player - was framed for stealing and went home. The third was a shy math genius who left when she came under pressure from the boys. Taylor is determined to survive. She has done hard things before. She does feel alone and isolated. She has noticed and been noticed by Sam Barrett. He offers to tutor her in Trig which is her worst subject but she just doesn't trust him.

It takes quite a while for Sam to convince Taylor that he is no longer part of the Statesmen. The Statesmen plan and execute a number of bullying and harassing activities. When Taylor goes to her mentor and the Headmaster both dismiss her accusations and leave her on her own. She does have a sympathetic teacher - the Trig teacher. He helps her get around the tricks of the Statesmen. Along with Sam's tutoring and the teacher's assistance in seeing that her papers aren't tampered with, Taylor manages to raise her grade to a B.

This year at school was a growing one for her. She improved her skills at baseball, became a better student, and stood up to bullying to get to her goal.

This story was told in the first person from Taylor's point of view. While this gave us a clear vision of Taylor, it did make Sam's apparent sudden change of heart seemed to happen rather quickly and with no build up. Also, the tight first person didn't let us see what the adults who seemed to dismiss Taylor's concerns were actually doing. As a teacher, I couldn't see why a school that prided itself on being honorable would so quickly dismiss a student's accusations.

Beyond those little quibbles, I found the story to be successful and entertaining. I liked Taylor and wanted the best for her.  Readers who like boarding school stories, sports stories, and stories of people facing challenges will enjoy this one. 

Favorite Quote:
"Where's the trust, Dresden?" He held up his arms like a suspect looking to get patted down.
"Uh, it was lost somewhere between the gym and your dorm room."

He opened the door. "Shall we?" he said, gesturing and allowing me to go first. All right, so maybe walking with him won't hurt anything. Besides, it was hard to resist his gorgeous stupid face smiling at me and his perfect hands holding open a door for me.

I received an eARC via NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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