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Going for the Record

Going for the Record

4.6 13
by Julie A. Swanson

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Editorial Reviews

The summer before her senior year in high school, everything is coming together for Leah Weiczynkowski's soccer aspirations. She makes the Olympic Developmental Program's regional team, is invited to a national camp, and is recruited by coaches at major universities. But her self-absorbed dedication to soccer is challenged when she learns her chief sup-porter, her father, has terminal pancreatic cancer with only three months to live. Leah and her family find themselves on a devastating path as they learn to cope with the illness. They go through fear and anger, denial, hope, bargaining, and resignation. They also have to watch as their father tries to cope with extreme pain and still maintain his sense of control and dignity. Swanson asks hard questions anyone facing suffering must ask. Why is this happening? How can someone deal with pain with dignity? How can people continue their lives faced by the loss of a loved one? How do we deal with the void in our hearts? This may seem to be a predictable novel, but Swanson's story leads us to empathize and to hope we might have their courage to deal with death and loss. 2004, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 217 pp., Ages young adult.
—Jeanne M. McGlinn
Children's Literature
Soccer is Leah Weiczynkowski's life. All her hard work is finally paying off as she earns a spot on the Midwest Regional Team, with a shot at making the National Team. Driving home from the regional meet, her dad tells her while she has been gone he has been diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live. Shock, disbelief, denial, and anger fill the next couple weeks for Leah. Her father takes a turn for the worse while she's at Nationals and Leah makes the difficult decision to cut short her time there (greatly reducing her chances to make the team) to come home to be with and help care for her father. Well-drawn relationships and characters make this a poignant story of a teen's coming to terms with her father's and her own spirituality, her family, life, and death. Neither Leah nor her family are saints, but their love and underlying respect for each other allows them to accept the situation and help each other through it. The book is painfully honest as it details Leah's withdrawal from friends and soccer and her father's decline and pain. Yet overall, there is hopefulness as the Weiczynkowki's laugh, cry, and pray their way through these three months and as Leah and her mother begin to piece together their new life. The soccer angle provides a balance and escape from what might have become a maudlin story. 2004, Erdmans, Ages 12 up.
—Peg Glisson
Caught between the tensions of her father's illness and her Olympic soccer ambitions, seventeen-year-old senior Leah Weiczynkowski spends five months watching her father die and reevaluating her life. On the day that she tells him, her biggest fan, that she has qualified for the first step toward the Olympics, he tells her that he has terminal cancer. His choice is hospice. Helping her mother and comforting her father, she, like her father in the natural death process, daily battles denial and withdraws from life. Discovering that Luke, the boy she considered her buddy and workout partner, loves her, she rejects him. Her outstanding performance at the Olympic Training Center and multiple scholarship offers do not cure her father. He deteriorates, and Leah quits soccer too. After her father dies, she realizes that she loves Luke but still rejects the sport, which she feels robbed her of family time. With the support of her mother and friends, however, she is persuaded to play in a pick-up game and begins to resurrect the joy of her skill, competition, and life. Perhaps more powerful than Both Sides Now (Henry Holt, 2000/VOYA June 2000), this coming-of-age spiritual journey is a realistic, sensitive look at a strong family with deep faith, forced to make wrenching, practical decisions. Requiring a mature audience, it challenges each reader to consider the balance of his or her own life. Every counselor and hospice worker should have a copy. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2004, Eerdmans, 217p., $8 Trade pb. Ages 12 to 18.
—Lucy Schall
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Leah Weiczynkowski is a promising soccer player with Olympic aspirations. The summer before senior year, she learns that her beloved father has pancreatic cancer and only three months to live. Called "obsessed with soccer" by her mom, Leah isn't interested in parties, shopping, or hanging out with friends, and she regards Clay, an attentive male classmate, as a soccer trainer, not a boyfriend. She practices her sport intently and awaits phone calls from college coaches eager to recruit her. As her dad's illness progresses, the teen begins to feel selfish and guilty when family needs threaten to interrupt her schedule. Her first-person narrative conveys emotional vulnerability and growing self-reflection. Part of an extended Catholic family, Leah is comforted by her grandmother, who talks about the power of prayer. Her father's inexorable decline, including the arrival of hospice workers and a hospital bed in the sunroom, is portrayed with realism and pathos. With his death, Leah comes to recognize that soccer is just a game, that her relationship with Clay is important, and that what really matters is to make a difference in the world. This powerful novel leaves the outcome undefined, but there is no doubt that Leah has grown inestimably in her understanding of the value of relationships, in her ability to accept and grieve her father's death, and in her resolve to move ahead with living. A first-rate debut.-Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In contrast to the many novels in which the earlier deaths of parents, usually mothers, serve as narrative devices to leave teen protagonists on their own, this intense story portrays a father's death in painful detail, balanced with a sense of hope. During the summer before her senior year, narrator Leah is torn between her fierce commitment to soccer, at which she excels, and her need to help care for her dying father. Convincing relationships and character development emerge as Leah's father reveals his spiritual side, her mother finds strength in her Catholic faith, and Leah grows closer to both of them. The author doesn't flinch at describing the father's deteriorating condition and his pain, yet conveys the feeling that death approached with love and courage can strengthen a family. Religious elements including prayer, so often absent from YA works, blend in smoothly, while Leah's soccer games provide relief from the intensity at home. While readers will find the story emotionally challenging, those seeking an honest portrayal of death will find it here. (Fiction. 13+)

Product Details

Eerdmans Pub Co
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.64(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

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Going for the Record 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I love love love this book. I totally connect with this book. For anyone who has lost a parent to cancer, like I have, I would recommend this book. Love it!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book Going for the Record by Julie A. Swanson is a very overpowering story of a teenage girl with a father affected by cancer. This story will touch hearts everywhere no matter if you are boy, girl, old, or young. The ups and downs will want you to keep reading more. Though heartbreaking, Going for the Record is an intriguing novel about how to pull through even when it seems like your world is ending. Going for the Record tells the story of a teenage girl named Leah who just achieved the beginning of her lifelong dream by making the Olympic soccer training team. Little did she know she was about to be hit with a lot more shocking news. The shocking news is that her lifelong supporter both in life and in soccer, Leah's father, has pancreatic cancer. Her father is fine at first, just a little weak, but he can still do the normal things he has always done such as taking Leah to her soccer events and running their family restaurant. As the book progresses, Leah's dad regresses. He becomes so sick that he spends most of his time in his hospital bed and even if he feels like moving about, he has to be in a wheelchair. By this point he can't drive Leah to her games and practices anymore. Leah gives up soccer even though it was what she loved most because she thought it was pointless to be out playing a game when there are more essential things in life and helps take care of her father for the rest of the summer. The way Julie A. Swanson wrote was steady throughout the book. It was written in the eyes of a teenage girl in grief because of her father's illness. The way Swanson illustrated the problem made it feel like you could connect. For example, when the men who worked for the hospital came to the house with a hospital bed and wheelchair, Leah and her grandmother got upset. I would have gotten upset also, since the medical equipment that was supposed to help my father only reinforced the fact that he was becoming more ill. The author conveys a teenage girl perfectly. When Leah gets an apology letter from her friend after they had gotten in an argument, she rips it up. Some teenagers still wouldn't be happy with their friend even if they apologized. Leah also doesn't want to do anything except help her father and won't take help from anyone. Teenagers are like this in a way that they want to be independent. Going for the Record is about cancer, but also includes a twist with a daughter who has a dream put on hold. I believe that even though this story is sensitive, boys would like it too because it deals with soccer and is not just sad and emotional like a drama. This book is about a girl trying to chase her dream but having to wait. This book pulls at your heart therefore; I give it 8 hearts out of 10. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 <3
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Julie A. Swanson's Going for the Record is a very heartfelt, realistic novel. When I opened the book and read the first page, I knew that I would not be able to put it down! And let me tell you, I didn't. The author's unique way of making the main character's issue relate to other girls made me want to keep reading. I'm the kind of person that doesn't like to read books unless I have to, but by reading this novel, it has opened my eyes to see how books can relate to realistic situations. Going for the Record is about a girl, Leah Weiczynkowski, who loves the game of soccer. She is very passionate and dedicated to making herself improve and become a better player. Leah was living in a perfect world that was all about her and her soccer career, until one afternoon when her father picked her up from camp, and told her that he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Leah's life changed drastically as she focused more on helping her family cope with her father's illness and less about soccer. As her father's condition worsened, Leah was with him twenty- four seven, guiding him through his heart-wrenching battle. The message in this novel is a very strong one that everyone should pay attention to: you don't know what you have until it's gone. I very much enjoyed reading this book because of the way that I felt so many different emotions while reading: joy, hope, sadness, forgiveness, and generosity. Julie A. Swanson did an excellent job of pouring her soul into the novel when she explained Leah's confused emotions and outlooks on her father's illness: "Why doesn't he want chemotherapy? It will give him another shot at life." The way the author made the events leading up to the climax of the story seem so joyful, yet unfortunate made me want to keep reading to find out what will happen next! Once I reached the climax, the story got more and more interesting and it drew me in even more! I wanted to see what would happen to Leah's father after he received chemo and after he decided to stop. The characters in this story are unbelievably strong, determined, and caring. While reading Going for the Record, you will be touched by how dedicated Leah's family is to helping her father become healthy again, even if it takes giving up their jobs and activities. I strongly recommend this book for teens that are looking for a sentimental book about family, values, and generosity. Going for the Record is an astounding book, well written by Julie A. Swanson, and is definitely a must-read. After reading this book, you will reconsider what comes first in life, family or sports. Enjoy!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
Going for the Record is about a young teenage girl striving to become the best women's soccer player in the world. Of course we all know that life is never that good. Days before Leah's big shot at achieveing her goals, she discovers that her dad has a fatal illness. When her dad tries to comfort her, he held her hand and said 'Let's go for the record'. This moment meant a lot to Leah through out the story. She never liked holding her dad's hand, but at this very moment she took that gesture as comfort and compassion. As her father's conditions worsen, Leah has to choose what she loves the most, soccer or her family. Leah is devoted to her father twenty four seven. She never leaves his side and always hopes for the best. Leah gives up soccer, school, and friends for her dad. Leah realizes that she has to be strong for her mother and father during this painful time. Leah soon learns that maybe there is more to life than just soccer. Through out the rest of the story Leah discovers her true passion in life and puts her soccer goals to the test.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The novel Going for the Record by Julie A. Swanson is about a teenage girl and her family coping with her father¿s struggle with pancreatic cancer. I think the book was a realistic and easy to follow story. The book makes you feel for the characters and changes your views about how a disease affects a family as a whole. The dialogue in the story adds to the emotion and suspense of the book. The main character in the story is Leah, she is a soccer player that is very talented and wants to try out for the national soccer team. One day, after practice Leah¿s father picks her up from practice and tells her that he has pancreatic cancer. She is shocked and can¿t believe that this could be possible. She finds out that her dad may only have three months to live. As the story progresses her father starts to suffer from the cancer. Leah leaves to try out for the national soccer team because her father¿s condition seemed stable but comes home early because her father takes a turn for the worse. When Leah gets home her father is in a great deal of pain and turns to religion and talking to Leah to help him handle the pain. Leah quits playing soccer because she thinks that is the right thing to do but in actuality she needs soccer because it makes her happy in the hard times she is facing. I think the book was a great read. I thought it was good because it is very realistic and the author makes you understand the characters. In the story when Leah comes home from national soccer tryouts to care for her father but she feels depressed that her dream of making the team is gone but would feel guilty if she had not come home. This is probably how a teenager would handle this situation. In the book each family member in the story reacts differently to Leah¿s father¿s condition which happens in real life to many families. The story is easy to read because the author writes the book in a way that makes you feel for the characters and you hope that there is a cure for the cancer just like family prays for. This book is a compelling read for teenage female athletes because it relates to soccer and how teenagers would handle day to day situations and problems. I¿d rate the book 4.5 star and if you read it you¿ll agree.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I love how she creates a twist in the story. Its so captivating!! Once i got to reading it i couldn't set the book down. I read till one in the morning.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Going for the Record was an excellent book which was very well written. It talked about cancer and death, which is a topic many teen authors dont touch. It made me laugh, cry, and appreciate when i have.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was soooooo good! Its a story of many different situations that people can relate to. Its such a sad, sweet and touching story. I'd sugest this book to any who's in search of an interesting novel to read. Please take my advice and read this marvelous book. Thanks
Guest More than 1 year ago
This poignant, gritty story is a must for anyone who appreciates truth in story-telling. Leah is a wonderfully realized character. Her journey is beautifully told. I'm not a big fan of sports books but there's a great balance here between the family story and the sports story. Definitely recommended to teens and preteens who like good books.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I walked into BN after my soccer game and this book caught my eye. Not only does Leah tell and show you about her love of soccer, but how it affects her life with her parents and friends. You will cry, laugh, get excited, and yearn to continue reading. It was a good book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was introduced to me by my grandpa Edward Polakowski,Julies(the author) Uncle. Its an awesome book! GO JULIE!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Going for the Record takes you straight to the core of Leah Weiczynkowski's heart as she struggles to reconcile her love for her dying father with her dreams for her own future. Her gritty, courageous questions about life, death and what really matters will resonate with anyone who has lost a loved one at a tender age. Leah is so real, so true that you can't help but laugh when she laughs, cry when she cries and cheer when she finds the answers she¿s been searching for. This poignant and moving story is a gift to all young people who have grappled with big questions about the meaning of living.