Jasmina Santos-Campbell is a brilliant and immediately likeable character. She's the captain of the Bramrock Stars, the first girls' football team from her school, which is on the road to success. They just don't know it yet. I was immediately drawn in by Priscilla Mante's wonderful, fast-paced plot and the seven very distinct characters who form Jaz's team.
The book is a story about many things. Above all, it's a tale of determination which sends a message to all girls that they should pursue their dreams even if (or perhaps particularly if) there are many hurdles on the path to victory. Women's football is still so under-represented in the media, with salaries not even close to those of male players, but Jaz is determined to play a part in turning this around.
The story also touches on the important theme of family separation and the guilt that often accompanies it. Jaz feels that if only she could cause a bit less trouble and play a bit better in her games, her parents might get back together and her mum (Mae) might move back home. But with time she realises that she and her brother aren't to blame in the slightest for what's happening at home, and that her parents, together or apart from each other, will always be her biggest fans.
Finally, Jaz Santos Vs The World is a wonderful celebration of friendship and kindness, and equality which we all need to see more of in current times. The below extract is a brilliant example:
Have you ever felt it's nice to be with your friends without actually having to talk or listen to them? That's how I felt. As we made our way to school on Monday morning, the silence between Charligh and me was as comfortable as my old, fluffy slippers.
At breaktime, we got together with my team-mates. The final was just two weeks away and we decided to use every lunchtime we could to train. As usual, the boys took the football pitch over completely and Rotten Roundtree backed them up. 'They need to train for their games,' he said.
'What about us? We need to train too,' I retorted, bursting with the injustice of it all, but he just shooed us away as if we were annoying flies.'
I would recommend this brilliant story to all 8-12 readers!