Book: Arcady’s Goal (2014)
Author: Eugene Yelchin
Genre: MG, Historical
Rating: 3 Stars
Basic plot: Arcady lives in an orphanage where his only hope lies in soccer and being the best. When Arcady is adopted by Ivan Ivanych, his new “father” starts coaching him and a bunch of other children for his soccer team… that is until the other fathers kick Ivan Ivanych off the team. Ivan Ivanych takes Arcady to get a letter to try out for the Red Army youth team. The problem lies in the fact that Arcady’s parents were declared “enemies of the state.” Now it’s up to them to find a way to make Arcady’s goal…
1) Arcady is so hopeful in this! Always seeing the bright side of things. Which is interesting since the setting is the Soviet Union. Arcady could have been bitter about his parents being taken away, but he isn’t. As a trusting kid, he just accepts this happened and focuses on soccer.
2) Yelchin does a good job showing the confusion and betrayals that was the era of the Soviet Union. Arcady’s encounters a lot of things that should make him question what’s happening in his home country.
3) The story was a little slow in places. But it picked up for me with the re-introduction of a boy (Freckles) from Arcady’s soccer team. It was around this time that some of the other elements hinted at also became clearer.
4) I liked the little twist with Fireball, the guy in charge of getting Arcady a letter to try out for the Red Army youth team.
5) I do like the hopefulness that this story gives us. There’s was not a lot of hope in the Soviet Union during this time. But I like how this ending, although it is ambiguous, doesn’t end in despair.
6) One of my favourite lines is when Arcady asks (*SPOILER) Ivan Ivanych’s real name (End Spoiler). I thought that was a nice touch. Even if his new dad doesn’t give him the answer.
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
1) I didn’t like this book as much as Breaking Stalin’s Nose. (That book was a masterpiece! Which is why it got a Newbery Honor.) Maybe it was the slowness of this book? I’m not sure. I wasn’t as drawn to Arcady as I was to Sasha.
My rating is 3 Stars (out of 5) – Kids who enjoy soccer will like this book. I like that the setting is the Soviet Union and applaud Yelchin for bringing to life a time period in history that isn’t often written about.
Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!
Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday…