We Ride Upon Sticks
From the author of the widely acclaimed She Weeps Each Time You're Born comes a new novel, at once comic and moving. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts (which in 1692 was Salem Village, site of the origins of the Salem Witch Trials), it follows the Danvers High field hockey team as they discover that the dark impulses of their Salem forebears may be the key to a winning season. In this tour de female force, the 1989 Danvers Falcons are on an unaccountable winning streak. In chapters dense with '80s iconography--from Heathers to Big Hair--Quan Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective journeys of this enchanted team as they storm their way to the state championship. Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza, whose bleached blond "Claw" sees and knows all, the DHS Falcons prove to be as wily and original as their North of Boston ancestors, flaunting society's stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport.

We Ride Upon Sticks Details

TitleWe Ride Upon Sticks
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseMar 3rd, 2020
PublisherPantheon Books
ISBN-139781524748098
Rating
GenreFiction, Historical, Historical Fiction, Fantasy, Adult Fiction, Adult, Sports

We Ride Upon Sticks Review

  • Jessica Woodbury
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. What a goddamned delight of a book. I laughed at something nearly every paragraph. I got to know these characters deeply. This book understands the dark magic of teenage girls and opens it wide open, showing us just how powerful they are and I loved every minute of it.The Danvers High School varsity Field Hockey team has 11 members and at first they are all a blur to you. But after a while you will know them all intimately, you will know Boy Cory's last name and Girl Cory's sketchy 4.5 stars. What a goddamned delight of a book. I laughed at something nearly every paragraph. I got to know these characters deeply. This book understands the dark magic of teenage girls and opens it wide open, showing us just how powerful they are and I loved every minute of it.The Danvers High School varsity Field Hockey team has 11 members and at first they are all a blur to you. But after a while you will know them all intimately, you will know Boy Cory's last name and Girl Cory's sketchy stepdad and Julie's ankle length dresses and you will most certainly know Jen's massive fringe of bangs referred to as The Claw throughout the novel. The team went 2-8 last year so the expectations for the 1989 season are not high, but that all changes with one notebook with Emilio Estevez on the cover where one by one the members of the team pledge themselves to dark forces so they can go to State. They are acting on reckless teen instinct, the need to declare and invent and decide that if you do X then Y will happen, and probably because Danvers is right by Salem and they've spent their whole lives hearing about teenage girls and pledges to the devil. Their pledge sure seems to be working as things start turning around for the Lady Falcons. But there's also a growing need to appease "Emilio" along with the growing powers. I won't spoil anything for you but there's plenty of surrealist touches, and a perfect mix here of darkness, humor, and self-discovery. Let's be honest, self-discovery and self-empowerment can require you to go to some pretty dark places, but the team is ready. Their story is written in first person plural, the rare "we" narrator. I do not often have much patience for unusual pov's in novels, but I am totally sold this time. The "we" works so well, the team is made up of individuals and we get to know them well but the team is also an entity, a powerful coven that is its own character in the book. The collective becomes such a driving force that it's hard to imagine the book being written any other way.I felt like it took me a really long time to read this book. I have a bad habit of skimming/speed reading but with this book I couldn't do it at all. I had to read every single sentence. I had to savor every bite. I read it slowly but it was totally worth it. This is one of those truly unique books that is such a pleasure that you don't really want it to end.
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  • The Artisan Geek
    January 1, 1970
    1/2/20Gals signing their name in to the Devil's Book sounds really thrilling! I could do for a fun and dark book!!You can find me onYoutube | Instagram | Twitter | Tumblr | Website
  • Nenia ⚡ Aspiring Evil Overlord ⚡ Campbell
    January 1, 1970
    This sounds like one of those 90s sports movies, only with a dash of Satanism."Salem's hockey team lost every game they ever played. Just when they felt like they were all out of puck... they received a little help from an old friend..."*record scratch*"The DEVIL."
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  • Brianna Carosi
    January 1, 1970
    I got this as an advanced copy for nycc so I took some pretty intense notes. The things I really liked about the book was the witchcraft and reckless abandon. And how supportive of each other the team is. My favorite part was the last chapter. I think if it started out as a frame story I would have liked it better, i like the structure the last chapter gave it all.This is a plot heavy book, everything that happens pushes the plot forward. I found myself wanting to get the know the team more like I got this as an advanced copy for nycc so I took some pretty intense notes. The things I really liked about the book was the witchcraft and reckless abandon. And how supportive of each other the team is. My favorite part was the last chapter. I think if it started out as a frame story I would have liked it better, i like the structure the last chapter gave it all.This is a plot heavy book, everything that happens pushes the plot forward. I found myself wanting to get the know the team more like yeah everyone was present and they each got their own chapter highlight but at the end of the book it's hard for me to see the characters as separate people instead of flat stereotypes.My big reason for not rating more highly is that at time I felt like I'd find myself get lost in the text. Like I'd be reading and wonder what all these round about descriptions actually getting at. Sometimes I think less words are better. I think I would have enjoyed this more if I knew something about field hockey. Or if I knew anything about 80s hair, it took me half the book to figure out the claw was a hair style. I don't get the significant of the splotch either and think it's unnecessary. Another issue I had was the girls have a pretty unhealthy view of sex like how "girls aren't supposed to like it", which 80s or not trying to market it to girls today with the overwhelming majority of characters believing girls don't like sex.
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  • Bill Kupersmith
    January 1, 1970
    Most literature of sport Ive read features bat and ball games - either cricket or baseball. Except for Enid Blyton, Field Hockey (ie, real hockey, not ice hockey) has been an orphan. This year happily for me (as we endure the cancellation of both FIH Pro Hockey and the Olympics) has given me the pleasure to read two novels set at the opposite extremes of the sport, the Olympic Games in Sydney and a high school in Danvers, Massachusetts. They were Fiona Campbells No Number Nine and now Quan Barry Most literature of sport I’ve read features bat and ball games - either cricket or baseball. Except for Enid Blyton, Field Hockey (ie, real hockey, not ice hockey) has been an orphan. This year happily for me (as we endure the cancellation of both FIH Pro Hockey and the Olympics) has given me the pleasure to read two novels set at the opposite extremes of the sport, the Olympic Games in Sydney and a high school in Danvers, Massachusetts. They were Fiona Campbell’s No Number Nine and now Quan Barry’s We Ride Upon Sticks. Barry is a poet, but the poetic diction of We Ride mostly consists of 1980s pop culture allusions, along with the famous 1690s Salem witch trials. The whole oeuvre feels like a melange of Teen-Aged Exorcist, Dare Me, and The Coven.The Danvers High School Falcons were utterly pathetic, till in the summer at field hockey camp their goalkeeper discovers a talisman composed of tube sweat sock and creates a grimoire with a notebook featuring a picture of Emilio Estevez (the high-school wrestler in The Breakfast Club) on the cover. And they start winning matches, culminating with a trip to the State Championships, apparently assisted by an occult force they simply call Emilio. This book is rather more about teen girl culture than hockey, though the team features one boy player, a controversial practice apparently still allowed by Massachusetts interscholastic athletics. (They ought to abolish American football and substitute boys’ field hockey instead. It would do wonders for the USMNT.) Many of these girls come from hilariously dysfunctional families, especially Julie’s with her ex-priest and ex-sister parents and her utterly psychotic six year old foster brother. In order to keep their occult power active, the team regularly commit acts of anti-social vandalism, including burn copies of Huckleberry Finn and holding a car-wash that leaves customers with dirtier vehicles than before. I confess I tired of the girly-culture, especially the big hair, featuring Jen’s “claw” (which we’re supposed to think can talk till it finally succumbs to extreme lightening products).Rules are a bit different from today. Then there was an offsides rule, and players were forbidden to lift sticks about shoulder height. Indeed the only attempt at an aerial Barry describes ends in disaster.“Later Larry Gillis’ tape would show us the horrific details in slow motion. We had to admit it looked like an honest mistake. For a brief and shiny moment, #11 thought he’d gained control of the ball. In that instant, he reared back, like a golfer setting up a monster drive, and prepared to whack it downfield, his stick rising above his shoulder, which was technically illegal but hey, we all high sticked from time to time. The thing is Little Smitty wasn’t a quitter. When most people would have retreated, Little Smitty got low, then lower still, darting in for the ball and snatching it away at the last minute. Consequently the Red Unicorn ended up whiffing hard, the ball no longer where he thought it was, his stick sailing up and up until it eventually made contact with the next best thing in its path, that thing being Little Smitty’s face. Nowadays when girls play field hockey, they wear plexiglass goggles over their eyes. Some also wear half masks to protect their noses and more of the face. But masks are now and no masks was then.” I asked an experienced umpire to comment, and he said that Smitty was clearly guilty of unsafe play in getting “lower and lower still” and that the present requirement for masks in high-school hockey simply provides a false sense of security. You don’t see them in club play.At the end, though, we jump ahead thirty years for a team reunion and find out the outcome of the state championship and the secret of the Emilio charm. No spoilers, though I’ll reveal that I was simultaneously disappointed and gratified. From the author’s afterword we gather that the story is based on her experience as a high-school player in the 1980s. She is now a professor at Wisconsin-Madison, which sadly does not play NCAA Field Hockey. If she wants to come down to Iowa City sometime this fall to watch the Hawkeyes play, I’d be glad to join her at Grant Field.
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  • Catherine
    January 1, 1970
    I was given the chance to read this for NYCC. I don't usually write reviews so I do apologize if this doesn't help.** SPOILER FREE** I didn't really mesh with Quan Barry's writing. I felt that there was a lot of stuff in the book that wasn't needed. The plot wasn't as crazy as I would have liked and I would have preferred to learn more about the girls. However I was glad everything I questioned about the book was answered (though some of them were a let down) and when I did get information about I was given the chance to read this for NYCC. I don't usually write reviews so I do apologize if this doesn't help.** SPOILER FREE** I didn't really mesh with Quan Barry's writing. I felt that there was a lot of stuff in the book that wasn't needed. The plot wasn't as crazy as I would have liked and I would have preferred to learn more about the girls. However I was glad everything I questioned about the book was answered (though some of them were a let down) and when I did get information about the girls, I ate that stuff up! All in all I'm glad I read it; kind if sad it's not being published in October. With it taking place where the Salem Witch trials happened, it has a spooky vibe.
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  • Drew
    January 1, 1970
    This book is, in all the best ways, like a campier Megan Abbott novel. I loved the way Barry merged between third-person specific narration and first-person-plural, I loved the trials and tribulations of teenage girls in 1989 striking a deal with... the devil? to win States in field hockey. I loved the particulars, I loved the little destabilizing details that tease what'll happen in the future, I even loved the times where the book slowed down a bit. Very fun, very sweet, but with a killer This book is, in all the best ways, like a campier Megan Abbott novel. I loved the way Barry merged between third-person specific narration and first-person-plural, I loved the trials and tribulations of teenage girls in 1989 striking a deal with... the devil? to win States in field hockey. I loved the particulars, I loved the little destabilizing details that tease what'll happen in the future, I even loved the times where the book slowed down a bit. Very fun, very sweet, but with a killer sharp edge. A must for witches, teenagers, sports-fans, Mass. residents, and lovers of aforementioned Ms. Abbott.
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  • Renee // Feminist Book Club Box and Podcast
    January 1, 1970
    If Now and Then, Pretty in Pink, and Practical Magic all had a baby who grew up to play field hockey, it would be this book. Perfection. Chefs kiss. If Now and Then, Pretty in Pink, and Practical Magic all had a baby who grew up to play field hockey, it would be this book. Perfection. Chef’s kiss.
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  • Tess
    January 1, 1970
    WE RIDE UPON STICKS is downright fantastic. This book is like nothing I've read before; Barry's writing is singular and magical, hilarious and heartwarming. A total surprise that I wolfed down and then wished it would last forever. Set in Danvers, MA (site of the Salem Witch Trials) in 1989, the high school women's field hockey team strikes a deal with evil forces to take their team to the championship. We follow each girl (and one boy) as they grapple with their new powers, find their own WE RIDE UPON STICKS is downright fantastic. This book is like nothing I've read before; Barry's writing is singular and magical, hilarious and heartwarming. A total surprise that I wolfed down and then wished it would last forever. Set in Danvers, MA (site of the Salem Witch Trials) in 1989, the high school women's field hockey team strikes a deal with evil forces to take their team to the championship. We follow each girl (and one boy) as they grapple with their new powers, find their own strengths within themselves, and have one hell of a ride doing it. From summer camp to the prom, it's a blast watching the women come of age in the most fun and fantastical of ways. I can totally see this being a huge TV series; I wanted to see each girl fully-formed because Barry writes them as completely original and larger-than-life characters. I truly can't say enough good things about this book other than you truly, seriously, must read it. Also fun to note that while reading it, I would call out landmarks noted in the setting of the North Shore to my husband, who grew up there, and he loved the details and spot-on descriptions of that part of the state. So, even if you feel like women's field hockey or high school in the 1980s isn't your jam, if you are from MA this might be a must-read.
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  • Leah Rachel von Essen
    January 1, 1970
    In We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, the 1989 Danvers field hockey team is tired of losing. So they do what any desperate squad of teenage girls would do: pledge their loyalty to the Devil in exchange for winning. With pieces of a gym sock tied around their arms and the land where the Salem witches were tried under their feet, these girls start casting spells. And when the team starts to winand win bigtheyre determined to keep that dark magic going, whatever it takes.This book was a wild ride In We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry, the 1989 Danvers field hockey team is tired of losing. So they do what any desperate squad of teenage girls would do: pledge their loyalty to the Devil in exchange for winning. With pieces of a gym sock tied around their arms and the land where the Salem witches were tried under their feet, these girls start casting spells. And when the team starts to win—and win big—they’re determined to keep that dark magic going, whatever it takes.This book was a wild ride all the way through. The only comparison I can really evoke is the Heathers: this novel is 80s dark teen comedy at its finest, teenage girls being bold, honest, wild, and trusting each other with the deepest (and sometimes darkest) parts of themselves. It’s absurd, hilarious, and impactful, and I laughed myself through it even as the vignettes of the characters, their complexities, their hopes and their pasts, were written out. I was uncertain at first about how the novel can switch into a collective ‘we,’ but ultimately ended up loving it.This is teens at their most realistic and at their finest. While the situations are absurd, Barry keeps the emotional center rooted deeply in teenage girl solidarity, in a group of girls that have each other’s backs, in girls who are flawed but daring, at once normal and incredibly special. It captures the feeling of being a high school athlete on a team that stands by each other (their preseason was so painfully realistic that my calves started aching in memory of my own high school soccer hell weeks). I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. We Ride Upon Sticks comes out March 3 from Pantheon.
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  • laurel [suspected bibliophile]
    January 1, 1970
    DNF at 7%There might be a great story here, but first person plural is a very hard sell for me and a story with 90% circular exposition doubly more so. The writing style is definitely not for me, as much as I wanted to like the story and keep going.
  • Jenna Leis
    January 1, 1970
    So I had the chance to read the advance copy for New York Comic Con and then sit and talk with some of my fellow book lovers and discuss our thoughts. My personal feelings about the book after reading it was that it was okay. I liked the concept of it but didn't really love the execution. It took me a bit longer than usually to get through it. I don't know if it was me or the book but there was nothing really compelling me to keep reading other than to get it done before Comic Con (and the fact So I had the chance to read the advance copy for New York Comic Con and then sit and talk with some of my fellow book lovers and discuss our thoughts. My personal feelings about the book after reading it was that it was okay. I liked the concept of it but didn't really love the execution. It took me a bit longer than usually to get through it. I don't know if it was me or the book but there was nothing really compelling me to keep reading other than to get it done before Comic Con (and the fact that I ain't no quitter!) There just seemed to be a lot going on with character development and not much with the actual plot or conflict of the book. And yes I understand it was about a field hockey team but fleshing out a well rounded and developed story for each of the players is a lot and doesn't leave much room for conflict and a central plot. Every time it seemed one was getting introduced, the next chapter we just moved on to another characters. Too many mini stories going on at once. My biggest critique was that while it was titled as a line from Arthur Millers' The Crucible I would have liked to see more connections to it. There were a few points like the town, the name of one of the main characters being Abby Putnam and being related to the one from the Witch Trials, and one of the characters even acted out in school's production of the show but the book could have taken it a step further and do it a lot sooner. It took until literally half way through the book to have the team repeating one of the most important the actions from the play (won't spoil what). Personally I would have liked more connection given its name.I think I did enjoy it more after I had the book group at the panel. Hearing other people talk about what they noticed in it made me think it had a lot more meaning than I originally saw. But I still do stand by my earlier critiques, and I think a lot of others did agree with me on these points. Overall though it was a fun read and can't wait to see any changes they might make when the book is published in March.Also a shameless plug for my blog to see more on this review and others like it here, https://confessionsofbookfreak.wordpr...
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  • Sara
    January 1, 1970
    4.5. This one was a whole lot of fun. Growing up in the 80s and 90s in Northern New England, a lot of it felt cringingly on point and nostalgic. A girl on my soccer team totally had a Claw. We made up dances to Control. A few things didnt ring totally believable, but in a book where hair talks and Emilio Estevez is a dark deity, just go with it. The girls are a joy and a mess and a fantastic fiery unit and their world is one worth spending some time in. We need more books about powerful female 4.5. This one was a whole lot of fun. Growing up in the 80s and 90s in Northern New England, a lot of it felt cringingly on point and nostalgic. A girl on my soccer team totally had a Claw. We made up dances to “Control.” A few things didn’t ring totally believable, but in a book where hair talks and Emilio Estevez is a dark deity, just go with it. The girls are a joy and a mess and a fantastic fiery unit and their world is one worth spending some time in. We need more books about powerful female friendships. And witchcraft.(Received a copy from Knopf via Goodreads giveaway)
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  • Ashley
    January 1, 1970
    "We ride upon sticks and are there presently."The 1980's, high school field hockey and teen witches...what more could you ask for out of a book?! I really enjoyed We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry. I loved that each chapter focused on a different character. It made me far more invested in the story because I was getting to know everyone. There is a long list of characters in the book to keep track of and focusing on each one at some point really helps keep track of everyone in the story. Yes, "We ride upon sticks and are there presently."The 1980's, high school field hockey and teen witches...what more could you ask for out of a book?! I really enjoyed We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry. I loved that each chapter focused on a different character. It made me far more invested in the story because I was getting to know everyone. There is a long list of characters in the book to keep track of and focusing on each one at some point really helps keep track of everyone in the story. Yes, this book is fun and silly in parts but it also delves deep into the teen girl brain. It does talk about hair and cloths and going to prom but it also talks about what a lot of young women have to go through and what they have to experience because they are women."To be anything but kind in the face of male desire was dangerous. Nobody had to teach us this lesson, it was just something we knew from the earliest days on the playground." There are some really important thoughts...points made about the female experience in this book and Quan Barry manages to do it while wrapping it up in a lovely fun 1980's teen witch story. I highly recommend this.*Thank you to Pantheon Books, Penguin Random House, Alfred A Knopf and Goodreads for this ARC of We Ride Upon Sticks in exchange for an honest review.
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  • Sharon L.
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 stars. I loved this book! A darkly comic tale about a high school field hockey team that signs a pledge in an Emilio Estevez notebookyes, this takes place in the late 80shoping that binding themselves to some dark forces will turn their losing season around. Little do they know, but the pact they have taken will upend their lives, potentially allowing them to become the young women they were meant to be. The novel is set in a bucolic town just outside of Salem, Massachusetts, and so the idea 4.5 stars. I loved this book! A darkly comic tale about a high school field hockey team that signs a pledge in an Emilio Estevez notebook—yes, this takes place in the late 80’s—hoping that binding themselves to some dark forces will turn their losing season around. Little do they know, but the pact they have taken will upend their lives, potentially allowing them to become the young women they were meant to be. The novel is set in a bucolic town just outside of Salem, Massachusetts, and so the idea of a “coven” of young women—with their field hockey sticks as a stand-in for brooms—is particularly compelling. Beautiful writing, a propulsive plot (will the Lady Falcons make it to the playoffs?) and some of the most spot-on, humane writing about the bonds of female friendship. Full of 80’s fashion and music references and a well-deserved, warm-hearted ending for the entire team, this book was a pleasure to read. To be fair, I wish it was about 50 pages shorter, but overall, I loved it! A delightful read!
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  • Elizabeth
    January 1, 1970
    Light, breezy and neon colored this book swoops in and brings high school in the 80s back at full throttle. You might need to be of a certain age or have a predilection for that decade because the references are coming in hot and if you miss them, you miss out.1989 Girls field hockey team, the Falcons, in Danvers Mass are a bunch of besties out to turn around their consecutive horrible past seasons and be the State winners they know they can be. With the help of Emilio Estevez they make a dark Light, breezy and neon colored this book swoops in and brings high school in the 80s back at full throttle. You might need to be of a certain age or have a predilection for that decade because the references are coming in hot and if you miss them, you miss out.1989 Girls field hockey team, the Falcons, in Danvers Mass are a bunch of besties out to turn around their consecutive horrible past seasons and be the State winners they know they can be. With the help of Emilio Estevez they make a dark pact that actually opens them up to reach for the brass ring in all aspects of life. The girls are merry. The writing is hilarious. It's like a day at the beach this book.
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  • Denver Public Library
    January 1, 1970
    You don't have to love the 80s, field hockey, or witchcraft to love this book! This delicious coming-of-age story tells the tale of the Danvers High School women's field hockey team and the challenge of turning their losing record upside down to win the state championships. Among the team membersAbby Putnam, a direct descendant of one of Salem's most powerful witches. When the team dabbles with incantations, a Ouija board, and invoking powers of the past, "Emilio" is born. As the team racks up You don't have to love the 80s, field hockey, or witchcraft to love this book! This delicious coming-of-age story tells the tale of the Danvers High School women's field hockey team and the challenge of turning their losing record upside down to win the state championships. Among the team members—Abby Putnam, a direct descendant of one of Salem's most powerful witches. When the team dabbles with incantations, a Ouija board, and invoking powers of the past, "Emilio" is born. As the team racks up win after win, the Falcons learn more about each other's secrets, and themselves. Hilarious, touching, and completely satisfying!
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  • Michelle
    January 1, 1970
    I could not have asked for a book more geared towards me if I tried. 1989, high school field hockey team embraces the dark arts to win the State Championship. I graduated in 1989 so I loved every pop culture reference in this. Even though it is about high school girls, I would not call this YA by any means - it is too well written and there is no underlying moral message. It is not laugh out loud funny, but there is a lot of dark and dry humor throughout this book. It was an absolute delight and I could not have asked for a book more geared towards me if I tried. 1989, high school field hockey team embraces the dark arts to win the State Championship. I graduated in 1989 so I loved every pop culture reference in this. Even though it is about high school girls, I would not call this YA by any means - it is too well written and there is no underlying moral message. It is not laugh out loud funny, but there is a lot of dark and dry humor throughout this book. It was an absolute delight and I really hope someone makes a tv series out of this because it would translate so well into that medium. Just read it - you won't regret it!
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  • Cathleen P. Brenycz (Woven From Words)
    January 1, 1970
    When I first heard about We Ride Upon Sticks, I was immediately drawn towards the plot of a womens hockey team thriving under the influence of supernatural power. The fact that the story is set right in the heart of a region rich in witchcraft added on to my interest in the tale. Im so thankful for Pantheon Books for providing me with an ARC of this book!We Ride Upon Sticks follows the lows and steady rise of the Danvers High School Falcons, an all-female hockey team suffering struggles until When I first heard about We Ride Upon Sticks, I was immediately drawn towards the plot of a women’s hockey team thriving under the influence of supernatural power. The fact that the story is set right in the heart of a region rich in witchcraft added on to my interest in the tale. I’m so thankful for Pantheon Books for providing me with an ARC of this book!We Ride Upon Sticks follows the lows and steady rise of the Danvers High School Falcons, an all-female hockey team suffering struggles until some supernatural help befalls on these women one summer. The triumphs the team experiences are sudden, but these women are also handling the pressures of senior year in high school. The friendships and dramas that befall girls approaching the crossroads of adulthood can bring about its own stresses. Each of the women described in We Ride Upon Sticks fit the mold of an ‘It Girl’, ‘The Leader’, ‘The Mousey-yet-assertive’ types that we’ve all seen in our high school days. Ushering in an extra dose of supernatural, ‘witchy’ abilities bring about unexpected surprises that takes us for a ride as the story progresses.We Ride Upon Sticks is set in the 1980s, which I very much appreciated! I love reading historical fiction tales, and while I was just a child in the 80s, many of the references brought a smile to my face (I loved ‘The Bangles’ and ‘Duran Duran’ musical references, to name a few!). The tension in the story was also presented in the style reminiscent to 1980s storytelling (I can only describe it as events take place in a slow-but-steady pace, keeping me focused!I enjoyed We Ride Upon Sticks, as it exemplifies the power of women coming together to survive and thrive while enduring the trials of adolescence, and having supernatural abilities on your side. If you love stories rich in female friendship with a hint of magic, then this is the book for you!
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  • Shelley Gibbs
    January 1, 1970
    Like if The Breakfast Club and the Craft and Heathers had a charming book baby.
  • Sarah Ames-Foley
    January 1, 1970
    mallory omeara called this the most truly New England book Ive ever read so now i must read it. mallory o’meara called this “the most truly New England book I’ve ever read” so now i must read it.
  • Geonn Cannon
    January 1, 1970
    Really good. Interesting POV. It's all we, our, us... never I. The narrator is never named or referenced. I don't think I've ever seen that before and it took a while to get over. I'm still not sure I am over it, but I didn't let it affect my overall enjoyment.
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  • Jessica Schiermeister
    January 1, 1970
    Cleverly written. Charming, funny, one-of-a-kind.
  • Hillary Copsey
    January 1, 1970
    A fun nostalgia bomb that really comes together at the end.
  • Sarah
    January 1, 1970
    This book is so wild. Following a group of high school seniors on their school's varsity field hockey team and narrated in the collective we, the book is ambitious: not only does it create eleven (!) compelling protagonists and a slew of side characters, including kind-of-sentient body parts like Jen Fiorenza's bangs (The Claw), Mel Boucher's teratoma (The Splotch), and school newspaper reporter Nicky's chin (The Chin). The imagination in this book is just a total delight, and the sneaky This book is so wild. Following a group of high school seniors on their school's varsity field hockey team and narrated in the collective we, the book is ambitious: not only does it create eleven (!) compelling protagonists and a slew of side characters, including kind-of-sentient body parts like Jen Fiorenza's bangs (The Claw), Mel Boucher's teratoma (The Splotch), and school newspaper reporter Nicky's chin (The Chin). The imagination in this book is just a total delight, and the sneaky commentary on race, gender, class, and sexuality, and the equally sneaky emotional punches, are so satisfying. For a book this playful, it was a really slow read for me, because every sentence and plot point demanded attention. I was happy to give it. This book involves Emilio Estevez and armbands made from an old blue tube sock; dead rabbits and purple tuxes; The Crucible and Huck Finn; fire and alcohol; moonlight and telepathy; love and sacrifice. It's so weird and so good, and the ending is so emotionally satisfying that I cried. Cried! I don't know, but I wasn't expecting to do that.(slight spoilers ahead from here)The only thing that made me stumble was some of the ways in which race, gender, and sexuality were talked about, like that non-white kids were seen as white in the school. But on reflection, this seems intentional, especially given some of the later parts of the story involving how fucked up 'The Adventures of Huck Finn' is and herstory about Tibuta (who I now know has a whole literary canon around her, and I want to read more about her). It seems like the jarring sentiments about whiteness and the grouping of all BIPOC folks together are meant to be jarring, their own social call-out. The only thing I didn't really feel was great was how the gay or femme boys were destined to either have drag be central to their life or to come out as trans. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, and it's lovely to have trans and GNC characters, it just felt a little like saying, if you're a girlish boy, you're a girl in one way or another. However! Gender is a whole big thing that can't be everything in one book, and this book treats all of its characters with a love that's contagious. I couldn't help but love all of them too.I highly recommend this read, I can't wait to read more Quan Barry now!
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  • Alicia
    January 1, 1970
    https://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2020/0...Yall. This book. Is about. FIELD HOCKEY WITCHES.FIELD HOCKEY WITCHES!!!!!Has there ever been a book more geared toward ME? (See below pic for reference.)Anyway, this story is set in 1989, where the much-losing varsity field hockey team at Danvers High takes a little inspiration from their town's historyDanvers, of course, being where most of the witch trials actually took place. I loved everything about this bookthe first person plural narrative voice that https://wordnerdy.blogspot.com/2020/0...Y’all. This book. Is about. FIELD HOCKEY WITCHES.FIELD HOCKEY WITCHES!!!!!Has there ever been a book more geared toward ME? (See below pic for reference.)Anyway, this story is set in 1989, where the much-losing varsity field hockey team at Danvers High takes a little inspiration from their town's history—Danvers, of course, being where most of the witch trials actually took place. I loved everything about this book—the first person plural narrative voice that nonetheless lets all the girls (and one boy) shine, their camaraderie and rivalries, how funny parts of this are and how satisfying all of it is, how it speaks to truth about the teen girl experience. Seriously, this book is GREAT and I recommend it highly, even if you didn’t play high school field hockey. A.__A review copy was provided by the publisher. This book will be released in March.
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  • Dayna Long
    January 1, 1970
    Loved this. It was refreshing to read a story about teenagers told in an unconventional, clever way. It was also extremely funny. A real treat.
  • Mary McBride
    January 1, 1970
    4.5A great story about a girls field hockey team near Salem Massachusetts in the 1980's.It's about their friendships, their expectations and finally figuring out who they really are. Full of great humor, a bit of witchcraft and unforgettable characters.A truly original and heartwarming treat.Due out in March 2020.
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  • Alexis
    January 1, 1970
    Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book via Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed this book overall, and I could see myself rereading it in the future. I gave this book 4.5 stars. We Ride Upon Sticks is a unique novel about a high school field hockey team in Danvers in the '80s that will do anything to make it to state during their senior year. Though this sounds like a novel meant for young adults, I think this novel would be more appealing to adults. My high school self wouldn't have found Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book via Goodreads giveaway. I really enjoyed this book overall, and I could see myself rereading it in the future. I gave this book 4.5 stars. We Ride Upon Sticks is a unique novel about a high school field hockey team in Danvers in the '80s that will do anything to make it to state during their senior year. Though this sounds like a novel meant for young adults, I think this novel would be more appealing to adults. My high school self wouldn't have found this interesting, especially after she read the author's writing style.When I first opened the book, I was excited to see that there was a "map" of the players' positions before the first chapter started. It was helpful to have this as a reference because I went into the book knowing absolutely nothing about field hockey. The map was a nice way to introduce me to the position names and locations. I put a sticky note on this page and flipped back to it from time to time. The map was especially helpful when there was mention of one character's position relative to another character on the field. It even helped me keep track of how many of the team members had yet to be introduced during the first chapter, as it was hard to keep track of so many new characters all at once.In the first chapter, I did grow a little frustrated trying to keep the characters separate. All 11 members of the field hockey team are introduced, seemingly one right after the other. In the beginning, nothing really stood out to me about the characters (except for one or two) that helped me keep them separate. If the writing hadn't been so good and the story didn't intrigue me, the overwhelming introductions would have made me put the book down. Thankfully, I got used to the characters fairly quickly. It got easier to remember each of them the more I read.Another issue I struggled with in the first chapter was trying to figure out who the narrator was. I was under the impression the story was being told by a single member of the field hockey team. The team was referenced as "we" and not "they," and I just assumed it was one person telling the story. (I think it's because I'm used to that point of view.) It wasn't until after the 11 team members had all been introduced that I realized that the novel was written in a first-person plural point of view. It made me want to go back and reread the entire first chapter. I had been reading it as if one character knew all of the information I was getting, and I felt that I needed to reread in order to have the correct perspective. I don't know. Maybe it's just me, but I felt that discovering the narrator wasn't just one character made me read that chapter differently.As some other reviews have mentioned, I also wanted to know more about the characters. Some of them were so interesting and could have been fleshed out so much more than they were. I loved reading the parts that delved into one of them just a little more than usual. Still, I feel the author only skimmed the surface of each of them. All throughout the book, I found myself constantly hoping there would be a deeper dive into the characters' lives away from the team. I was really disappointed in this aspect of the novel.In a way I liked the ending of the novel, and in a way I did not. I really liked that all of the loose threads were tied up and all of my questions were answered. I hate when novels don't answer certain questions the reader has, unless there's going to be a sequel. I'm grateful that this novel put my mind at ease in terms of tying everything up, even if I didn't like some of the outcomes. Some things in the last chapter completely shocked me, and I never saw them coming. Other things, I guessed halfway correctly. I can usually guess the endings of books, so for this one to surprise me says something. I still had no clue about how certain things would unfold until the middle of the last chapter. I really enjoyed that this novel read with a bit of an academic tone. Just by judging the cover and the synopsis, I would not have thought that it would read that way, even though Quan Barry is a professor of English. I was expecting this to be geared towards young adults, but I am glad it was not. It was a much more enjoyable and unique read to be told in the way it was.I did enjoy Barry's writing. However, I have a BA in English, so I may be a little prejudiced. I'm used to reading academic texts and enjoying them. Barry does a great job at not making the writing too overbearing or complicated, in my opinion. It's the way David Morrell's novels read. You can tell he's an academic by his writing style, but his books don't read like the sources you've pulled from JSTOR for a research paper. In conclusion, I am now a Quan Barry fan. Her writing style is exactly what I enjoy reading. I'll read any novel she writes. Her style makes up for plot choices I may disagree with or character development that I desperately wanted more of.
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  • Cora
    January 1, 1970
    Oh, this was a blast. Unusual plot, entertaining characters who are very distinct from each other, and an ending that made me unexpectedly emotional. I think this one is going to be a hit.
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