A small town in Maine is flooded with Somali refugees looking for a better way of life. The soccer team gets a jolt of inspiration and outstanding play from its new, non-English-speaking players. They might just have a chance to beat their archrivals! At least, so says Tom Bouchard, the handsome, nice-guy team captain and narrator. Getting in the way are Tom’s nasty, dimwitted girlfriend Cherisse, his hapless bad-boy friend Donnie, and prejudices and culture clashes on both sides.
Maria Padian, the author of two previous young adult novels (“Jersey Tomatoes Are the Best” and “Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress”), offers plenty of story in “Out of Nowhere”: romantic rivalries, class tensions, family pressures. She has a firm sense of plot, and the circumstances her characters grapple with — cyberbullying, the burden of a burnout friend, the pain of growing and changing — will resonate with young readers. Padian is trying a broader canvas here than in her previous work, grappling not just with people but also with their larger cultures, but, alas, with mixed results. One can’t help rooting for her attempt to show us the wider world. Yet the constant stream of explanation drags down the narrative at the expense of both character and forward momentum.
Read the entire review at ‘Out of Nowhere,’ by Maria Padian – NYTimes.com.