I love this series. I’m not so much a soccer fan as a fan of how Kate Christie writes about soccer (we call it football here). Reading about Jamie Maxwell, Emma Blakeley and the others, I find myself rooting for an imaginary team and it’s kinda exciting and wonderful.
This is book 4 of the Girls of Summer series and it is definitely not a standalone. If you haven’t read them yet, I’d recommend starting at the beginning, with Training Ground then Game Time and Outside the Lines.
When we first met Jamie and Emma, they were teenagers and already crazy talented soccer players. They went on to have very different careers, Emma’s dreams coming true quite quickly whereas Jamie had a much more troubled path to navigate.
One of the things I like best about GoS is how Jamie was stopped in her tracks by injury and her struggles to make it back to the top. In this book, she’s a temporary part of the national team, not sure from one game to the other that she’ll get to stay on. She needs to prove herself again and again and she never lets go of that goal (no pun intended). At the same time she tries to hold on to her relationship with Emma, who is clearly the love of her life despite everything that’s happened between them in the twelve years they’ve known each other. And at this time in her life, she also has to deal once again with the memory of the assault she had to live through as a teenager (a few months before she met Emma in book 1), as her club (Arsenal) is playing in Lyon, where the assault took place. As a French reader, I at times felt like I should apologize to Jamie about what happened to her in France. I love how the author dealt with that trip and Jamie’s memories. I also liked that Emma’s success wasn’t as much a given as she’d gotten used to. Not that I want her to have to go through tough times too, but that’s how life works.
Kate Christie wrote about how she had to decide whether to allow Jamie and Emma’s story to expand or limit it. She chose the former, so book 4 became books 4 and 5. As much as I understand her decision to do so, this book feels more like a transition than a novel in its own right. I’m going to have to get to book 5 (which got to use the series title Girls of Summer as its own) ASAP, because while getting to Canada was an interesting journey, it’s high time we made it there.
I’ve written before about how Kate Christie’s books tend to trigger my anxiety. I think I finally understand why, more or less. I’m Jamie Maxwell. Not literally of course. From an external point of view, we couldn’t be more different. I’m way older, I’m definitely not a soccer player or any kind of athlete (#dyspraxia), I’ll never play in a World Cup, I’m French and I’ve never been assaulted the way she was. But I get her. I get her anxiety, I get her sometimes awkwardness. She feels like me on the inside. I know, it’s weird. It doesn’t happen usually with characters. Maybe with Holden Caulfield when I was a teenager, but even then I think I could relate to him but he wasn’t me as much as Jamie is, or other characters Christie has written about. I guess what it means is either Kate Christie and I deal with the same kind of anxiety or she’s really good at writing about it. Maybe both. Anyhow, it’s one more reason her books resonate with me.
The Road to Canada is Kate Christie’s first audiobook, so I had read the first three books and listened to this one. It makes for a different experience, and it was interesting. The narration is pretty good, Britney Gil managed to convey the excitement of the games (it could have been boring if done wrong), and I rather liked her voice for Emma, though I wish the other voices had been more distinctive. But it was good, all in all.