Page 45 Review by Jonathan
"Okay girls, we didn't do very well last game. Why do you think that is? Sammy?"
"Haha! Okay okay, girls girls. Now, c'mon girls, think more positively. Anyone else? Zoe, what do you think?"
"I hate running."
"YES! That is one thing. What else? Molly?"
"Okay okay okay, just for that, everyone has to run ten laps! MOVE MOVE MOVE!"
Haha, well they really do suck. But, given that this not remotely about football, it really doesn't matter. Yes, I think we can safely say Roy Race will not be reading this to glean any coaching tips for Melchester Rovers... He could however pick up much useful information on how to build a harmonious and happy dressing room from a disparate set of social misfits and malcontents. Yes, the subtitle of "Bad At Soccer, Okay At Friends" just sums this up perfectly!
Here are the program notes from the comics chairman to rally the team and tell us all about the buy a pint, get a pie free offer.
"Faith, an introverted fifth grader with a vivid imagination, starts middle school worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group with a tendency for drama over teamwork.
Despite their losing streak, Faith and her fellow teammates form strong bonds both on and off the soccer field, which challenge their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity. The Breakaways is a positive exploration of the complexity of female friendships, as well as the ups and downs of middle school life.
Cathy G. Johnson brings this diverse and spirited group of girls to life with her joyful art style and honest, thoughtful writing."
Yes she does, I must say. I found this exploration of friendship in its many different forms as well written and moving as NIMONA with a dash of the daft of the likes of LUMBERJANES and BAD MACHINERY thrown in for good measure too. I nearly said GIANT DAYS, which is of course a fabulous exploration of female friendship with added sauce liberally splashed all over it, but unlike GIANT DAYS this is most definitely all-ages fare, though there are most certainly elements of sensitively dealt with romance as well as much platonic playfulness.
It's all about coming to terms with understanding who you are and what you want from your friendships with others, working towards those aims without trampling all over other people's proverbial toes, and how to deal with the odd, spectacular relationship own goal. I thought Cathy G. Johnson weaved the multiple story strands together like a silky skilled striker gliding effortlessly through a mesmerised defence. She certainly doesn't play favourites, though, as she frequently pits her characters against each other and also even against themselves. Especially themselves perhaps...
Art-wise, it is probably closest in style to some of the LUMBERJANES material, though you will also undoubtedly spot several snippets of many other all-ages favourites in there too. It's bright and lively yet works just as well for the tender, touching moments. Of which there are plenty, including some touching moments that are very tenderly done too, if you follow my semantics.
A veritable triumph of how teamwork is always better than trying to go it alone if you can just overcome your fears and add your skills to the collective, be that a friendship or a football team. Accept no substitutes!