Hooked by Liz Fichera ( web | tweet )
Publication Date: January 31, 2013
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Target audience: Young Adult
Keywords: Gender and Racial Discrimination, Golf, Bullying
Format read: ARC received via NetGalley
Summary: When Fredricka (Fred) is recruited to play golf for the men’s varsity team at her high school, team member Seth is kicked off. Seth manipulates and bullies Fred throughout the season, often leaving his best friend and ex-teammate Ryan in quite a predicament… especially when he might just be falling for Fred.
Hooked seemed like the perfect book for me, a girl who has lovingly devoured Miranda Kenneally’s books [see: Catching Jordan and Stealing Parker] which interweave a nice balance of sports and sweet romance. Though I don’t know a thing about golf, I was ready to be swept away by Fichera.
Fred is Native American and very isolated from the rest of her classmates. She has only a few friends because not many are willing to get to know the handful of kids attending the public school from her reservation. When she’s approached by the golf coach, who eyed her all summer while she perfected her swing at the golf club during her dad’s shift as groundskeeper, she’s not unsuspecting of the drama that is sure to follow when Seth is kicked off the team. Fred is a loner, mostly keeping to herself because she has a lot of family secrets she’d rather everyone not know. (Her mom is a drunk, they don’t have much money, live in a shabby trailer house, and drive a van that’s sure to cruise its last mile soon.)
Teammate Ryan has his fair share of drama, too, aside from Seth’s less than acceptable mistreatment of Fred. His doctor mother and lawyer father are rarely home; he suspects his father may be having an affair. Seth and Gwenyth (the clingy girl who can’t really take a hint that she’s being used and isn’t ever going to be promoted to Girlfriend) help soothe Ryan’s pain by partying and drinking with him. While it seems Ryan really is a good guy at heart, he’s left to pick up the pieces when Seth decides to attack Fred, portraying him as a very weak and gullible character . (Did I mention Seth’s father was killed in an accident by a Native American? His anger is immeasurable and he will do anything to make Fred suffer.) For the record, it was much more difficult to see Fred bullied by a boy than it typically is to read about girl v. girl drama.
You might have deduced that there’s no lack of drama with all the bullying and family tension. For a girl who is down with the (book) drama, I would have been more engaged if Fred or Ryan ever took a stand. Both were passive characters that let life take over. Fred was incredibly timid and never once rallied for support with her teammates or confided in her coach (who I wholeheartedly feel would have kicked major booty if he knew what was happening). Resolutions were delayed time and time again and I distanced myself from emotionally connecting with the characters as a result of their pathetic choices. Ultimately, I would have appreciated a bit more character growth.
With a book full of strong contrasts (white boy versus Native American girl / girl on a boy’s team / rich versus poor / popular versus being a nobody), a lot could have been said about how to overcome these differences. Fred didn’t learn to fight for herself. Ryan didn’t have to change much (and in the end, even Seth’s actions were glossed over). Don’t get me wrong, many elements of Hooked were strong. Reading about a Native American girl and her reservation was fascinating, and Fichera did a great job of exploring discrimination on multiple levels. Unfortunately, I wished for Fred and Ryan to have more backbone than they did, something that quite possibly could have been strengthened if they didn’t have quite so many obstacles to overcome.