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CM, Volume XV Number 3, September 26, 2008
This novel is very direct in its aims. The author wants to make the point to young readers that having asthma, if it’s treated sensibly, need not be a life-threatening condition. If the right precautions are taken, a girl like Lisa can live the active, sporty life she has always wanted. Silken Laumann is used as an inspiration for Lisa. She was the Canadian rower who suffered a catastrophic accident just weeks before she had hoped to compete in the 1992 Summer Olympic Games in Barcelona. Even though it took a tremendous amount of courage and hope, Silken was determined to heal and recover in time to compete. Lisa has to learn to draw inspiration from Silken’s tremendous effort and to achieve her potential in spite of her physical challenges. She also has to overcome her friends’ reluctance to accept her as a normal part of their group and to overcome her grief at having to give up her dog.
Debbie Spring covers all the basic facts concerning treatment for asthma and does seem to address some of the challenges that a young teen might experience as a result of having a medical problem involving allergies, a condition that is becoming very frequent. The social and family challenges are handled in a very perfunctory way, and the brevity of the scenes seems quite preachy. The basic situations and information are covered, but the emotional challenges are more prescriptive than emotional, and the feelings experienced by Lisa seem forced, as though checked off from a medical dictionary. The character of Lisa is also something of a cardboard cutout, with little individuality or nuances to her experiences. A heroine needs to be more convincing and multi-dimensional to be fully persuasive, and the writing needs to be at a higher level to draw in the teens of today who require an instant connection to their peer group.
Breathing Soccer attempts to provide a novel that provides hope and comfort to young girls affected by severe allergy problems, and it attempts to show them that they can still achieve a great deal of their potential. This book has good goals, but I would like to see a novel on the same subject that provides more rounded characters and is less preachy and politically correct. — Wendy Williams Recommended.
Wendy Williams, of Calgary, AB, is a teacher-librarian and self-confessed book worm. She recently returned from a month in England where she pursued, among other things, all sorts of literary connections and places.
Resource Links, Volume 14 Number 1, October 2008Breathing Soccer reveals the difficult life of Lisa, an asthma sufferer. Lisa struggles with her desire to play soccer and the refusal of both her over-protective parents and doctor to allow her to engage in physical activity. Unfortunately this activity could render her breathing lethal.
Lisa’s life begins to spiral out of control. Her friends begin to desert her as she cannot go outside to play. She is no longer invited to parties as parents become concerned she will have an asthma attack while under their supervision. Her self-esteem diminishes. When there doesn’t seem to be any hope. Lisa leams about the heroic story of Olympic Rower Silken Laumann. Silken was told her Olympic career was over due to a terrible accident. Silken defied her doctors and won the Bronze medal for Canada at the Games.
Lisa becomes determined to achieved her dream of playing soccer. She pushes her parents to take her to see an asthma specialist. With her new doctor’s help Lisa feels hopeful. She enrols in a soccer camp and with the encouragement of camp counsellor. Giant, Lisa finds she has the courage to overcome the obstacles associated with her illness and prove to everyone she is capable of controlling her asthma and being a great soccer player.
Thematic Links: Health; Medical Issues