web site hit counter The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel - Ebooks PDF Online
Hot Best Seller

The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel

Availability: Ready to download

An #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ--in figure skating and in life. Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn't concerned, however--she's determined to glide to vi An #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ--in figure skating and in life. Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn't concerned, however--she's determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?


Compare

An #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ--in figure skating and in life. Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn't concerned, however--she's determined to glide to vi An #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about a young girl trying to be a champ--in figure skating and in life. Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn't concerned, however--she's determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback?

30 review for The Comeback: A Figure Skating Novel

  1. 5 out of 5

    Bookishrealm

    This is going to be great for those that are interested in reading books about figure skating while also reading narratives that discuss marginalized groups and racism. Thank to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All thoughts are my own. The Comeback: A Figuring Skating Novel follows the skating experience of Maxine Chen as she trains and competes to make it to sectionals, nationals, and then the Olympics. This book has trigger warnings for racism, the This is going to be great for those that are interested in reading books about figure skating while also reading narratives that discuss marginalized groups and racism. Thank to Farrar, Straus and Giroux for providing me with a copy of this book for review. All thoughts are my own. The Comeback: A Figuring Skating Novel follows the skating experience of Maxine Chen as she trains and competes to make it to sectionals, nationals, and then the Olympics. This book has trigger warnings for racism, the use of racial slur on page, bullying. I was ultimately surprised at how heavy this middle grade book got at times. It tackles topics like racism, bullying, and even the ups and downs associated with childhood relationships. Maxine goes through some ups and downs related to her friendships but finds solace in a person that she finds herself not liking at first. While the novel does focus on the technical aspects of Maxine's skating career, Shen does a great job writing this novel in a way that will appeal to all readers even if they aren't fully immersed into the world of figure skating. One of my favorite parts of this books was seeing the support that Maxine receives from her parents especially in contrast to another character that may not have had the same amount of support. Quite often parents of athletic children get a bad reputation for putting too much pressure on the children to excel in the sport. Maxine's parents are the complete opposite. They are most focused on Maxine taking breaks when necessary and having fun like other children her age. They provide her with the support whether she does well or not during training or competitions. And I also loved that they promoted healthy eating. I know that in certain sports people become obsessed with maintaining smaller bodies to the point that it becomes unhealthy. Maxine's parents promote healthy wholesome eating on page. This book heavily focuses on bullying in the form of racism. Maxine lives in a town where she is one of the only people of color and while no one in the town seems to directly say anything, it is something that Maxine is constantly reminded of how she is different. It takes a lot of encouragement from a friend and her parents to overcome severe bullying that she faces at the hands on one student at school. And while I thought that this was going to be easily resolved, Shen definitely adds several layers that mold Maxine into a mature young adult capable of being the bigger person. Once again, Maxine's parents are present to assist her with understanding how racism has also impacted their lives. This is particularly important to me because while I may not experience racism in the same way, I know that this is a conversation that I will also have to have with my daughter. Overall, I thought that this was a great middle grade novel with great conversations. I'm extremely interested in seeing what else this author writes in the future. In fact, I would love to see another that focuses on what happens to Maxine in the future.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Tina

    This is a middle grade book. I really enjoyed this book. This book is about two girls becoming friends even if they both ice skate. There is a lot about ice skating. I love the writing in this book. This book really shows how the kid feels ice skating, and it shows that it can be really stressful for them. The characters in this book is very developed. Also in this book there is what Chinese or Asian face in school, and people picking on them. I know kids can be really mean at times, and I think This is a middle grade book. I really enjoyed this book. This book is about two girls becoming friends even if they both ice skate. There is a lot about ice skating. I love the writing in this book. This book really shows how the kid feels ice skating, and it shows that it can be really stressful for them. The characters in this book is very developed. Also in this book there is what Chinese or Asian face in school, and people picking on them. I know kids can be really mean at times, and I think this book shows it really well. I think this book well be good for kids that is having issues with people picking on them. I was kindly provided an e-copy of this book by the publisher (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) or author (E. L. Shen) via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review about how I feel about this book, and I want to send a big Thank you to them for that. (*)

  3. 4 out of 5

    Bonnie DeMoss

    Maxine is dealing with a demanding sport, bullying in school, and losing her best friend. She meets Hollie, her competitor, who seems to have it all, but learns things aren’t always as they seem. This is Middle Grade fiction based in the world of figure skating. As a fan of figure skating and sports fiction, I loved the figure skating aspect and the references to the greats in the sport. The issue of racial bullying is also addressed. Overall I feel this is well written and The Comeback is refer Maxine is dealing with a demanding sport, bullying in school, and losing her best friend. She meets Hollie, her competitor, who seems to have it all, but learns things aren’t always as they seem. This is Middle Grade fiction based in the world of figure skating. As a fan of figure skating and sports fiction, I loved the figure skating aspect and the references to the greats in the sport. The issue of racial bullying is also addressed. Overall I feel this is well written and The Comeback is referred to in different ways. There are comebacks in competition, comebacks in life, and verbal comebacks to racist comments. I feel that parents should supervise the reading of this book with kids under 12 so they can discuss the racial bullying aspect. I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via Netgalley. My review is voluntary.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Meghan

    This book was received as an ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I love a comeback story especially when there is cultural diversity involved. This book reminded me of two stories; The Color of Friendship and Ice Princess, with those in mind, I could not get enough of this book. and the backstory behind it. All through the book, put a smile on my fac This book was received as an ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group - Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) in exchange for an honest review. Opinions and thoughts expressed in this review are completely my own. I love a comeback story especially when there is cultural diversity involved. This book reminded me of two stories; The Color of Friendship and Ice Princess, with those in mind, I could not get enough of this book. and the backstory behind it. All through the book, put a smile on my face. A lot of our young reader community will be inspired by this story and maybe even be inspired to find a passion and dream and go for it no matter the circumstances. Especially during these difficult times, this story was so refreshing to read and I can't wait to share it with our young readers. We will consider adding this title to our JFiction collection at our library. That is why we give this book 5 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Darla

    Kristi Yamaguchi. Michelle Kwan. Nathan Shen. Names like those evoke images of grace, strength, and artistry on the ice. Figure skaters are incredible athletes and I loved the way this book showcased the discipline and dedication young skaters embrace. Maxine truly loves skating and her parents support her while encouraging balance in her life. The competitive side of skating is evident and we watch Maxine mature in her attitudes toward the skaters who are both her teammates and competition. Des Kristi Yamaguchi. Michelle Kwan. Nathan Shen. Names like those evoke images of grace, strength, and artistry on the ice. Figure skaters are incredible athletes and I loved the way this book showcased the discipline and dedication young skaters embrace. Maxine truly loves skating and her parents support her while encouraging balance in her life. The competitive side of skating is evident and we watch Maxine mature in her attitudes toward the skaters who are both her teammates and competition. Despite all the positives in her life, the microaggressions she faces from a classmate come quite close to undoing her progress in her training. What a poignant reminder of the power of negative words and actions. When the pattern of discrimination is brought to light the school deals with it firmly and Maxine's parents refrain from playing the victim card. She is strong and has reinforcements all around beginning with her parents and including all the skaters who have gone before her and have Asian roots. This book made me long for the Winter Olympics. Looking forward to 2022! Thank you to Macmillan and NetGalley for a DRC in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    fanna

    May 28, 2020: An ownvoices debut middle-grade novel with a fierce female Asian protagonist fighting racism while figure skating? And this beautiful cover (which has just been released)? 2021 should be here NOW.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Nev

    I really loved this! The Comeback is about twelve-year-old Maxine Chen and her journey trying to succeed at figure skating while dealing with some racist bullying at school. The book also touches on growing apart from someone who used to be your best friend. I appreciated that these topics weren’t watered down for a middle grade audience. Also, while there is a positive ending everything isn’t wrapped up so neatly in a way that might be a little too unrealistic. This book shows the importance of I really loved this! The Comeback is about twelve-year-old Maxine Chen and her journey trying to succeed at figure skating while dealing with some racist bullying at school. The book also touches on growing apart from someone who used to be your best friend. I appreciated that these topics weren’t watered down for a middle grade audience. Also, while there is a positive ending everything isn’t wrapped up so neatly in a way that might be a little too unrealistic. This book shows the importance of representation. Figures like Kristi Yamaguchi, Michelle Kwan, Mirai Nagasu, Nathan Chen, and an older Asian girl at Maxine’s skating rink give her people to look up to and aspire to be like when she starts to get down on herself because of the racist things her bully at school says to her. Overall I just think this book was really lovely.

  8. 4 out of 5

    PinkAmy loves books, cats and naps

    Intermediate skating phenom Maxine Chen worries about her upcoming competition, racist bullying from a classmate and Hollie, new skater who’s even better than she is. Worst yet, her former best friend is crushing on her bully and hanging out with kids who take drama. THE COMEBACK is a delightful debut novel from E L Shen. The book is aesthetically gorgeous, with drawings of figure skaters in various poses at the start of each chapter. THE COMEBACK is as well written as it is beautiful. Maxine’s v Intermediate skating phenom Maxine Chen worries about her upcoming competition, racist bullying from a classmate and Hollie, new skater who’s even better than she is. Worst yet, her former best friend is crushing on her bully and hanging out with kids who take drama. THE COMEBACK is a delightful debut novel from E L Shen. The book is aesthetically gorgeous, with drawings of figure skaters in various poses at the start of each chapter. THE COMEBACK is as well written as it is beautiful. Maxine’s vulnerable voice made me feel the pain of her bullying, the exact same bullying I witnessed an Asian girl receive 45 years ago when I was her age. I wish we had moved beyond that. Maxine worries telling her mom will make the bullying worse, but the abuse from her classmate grows harsher anyway. I also love how Maxine learns to channel her competitiveness with Hollie toward a friendship where they champion each other. I hope THE COMEBACK has a sequel. With Maxine in sixth grade, there’s room to take her to the next year and stay in the MG age group.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Maxine Chen lives in Lake Placid, New York, and loves to ice skate. She's fortunate that her school is very near the rink where she trains. Her best friend Victoria doesn't quite understand the commitment it takes to compete in the sport, but the two get along most of the time. While Maxine has lots of Asian American figure skating role models, there are very few people of color in her community, and she is often the recipient of microaggressions. Classmate Alex, E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Maxine Chen lives in Lake Placid, New York, and loves to ice skate. She's fortunate that her school is very near the rink where she trains. Her best friend Victoria doesn't quite understand the commitment it takes to compete in the sport, but the two get along most of the time. While Maxine has lots of Asian American figure skating role models, there are very few people of color in her community, and she is often the recipient of microaggressions. Classmate Alex, on whom Victoria has a crush, takes it even further, whispering or writing out racial slurs. Maxine isn't quite sure what to do about this, but has nightmares about her treatment. She lets this slide because she has more pressing issues with upcoming competitions as well as a new rival-- Hollie, who is homeschooled and is a very formidable foe. Hollie is much better at the dance portion of figure skating; Maxine takes ballet lessons, but dislikes them intensely. As she and Hollie warm up to each other, they become friends and help each other out, even though they still compete against each other. When things come to a breaking point at school with Alex, Maxine realizes that there are times when it is necessary to speak up for herself. Strengths: This is on trend with books depicting the experiences of students from different cultural backgrounds and their treatment in school. Maxine sends away from adhesive to try to make double eyelids on herself, thinking she would receive fewer comments about her appearance. She also gets help with her makeup from an older skater who is also Asian. I appreciated that when her teacher finally realized what Alex was doing and saying, punishment was swift, and apologies were made to both Maxine and her family. The details about skating are excellent, and Maxine's relationship with Hollie is realistically tentative. Maxine struggles with some of her school work, and with time management. The story moves quickly, with a good mix of sport and everyday life. Weaknesses: I wish there had been a little more interaction between Maxine and the other girls who skated at her rink, so that we could have gotten a glimpse at how other competitive skaters handled their time. What I really think: Fans of Kim's Stand Up, Yumi Chung who want the same level of social concerns mixed with skating instead of stand up comedy will enjoy this look into Maxine's world. This was a well done book, since I have Levy's Cold as Ice, Freitas' Gold Medal Winter, Nall's Breaking the Ice, Messner's Sugar and Ice, Papademetriou's Ice Dreams and the more YA books Ockler's Bittersweet and Morrill's Being Sloane Jacobs that all center around ice skating, I may pass on purchase. In thirty years of teaching, I have only had one competitive ice skater, and I don't even know where students would go skating just for fun.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Phoebe (readandwright) Wright

    If you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ll already know that one of my favorite places in the world is Lake Placid, NY. One weekend I was scrolling through Instagram (as one does) and my favorite independent bookstore, The Bookstore Plus, shared a story from author E.L. Shen with her new novel, The Comeback. She was sharing photos of it in the place it’s set: Lake Placid! I immediately knew I had to have it and after reading it, I can’t recommend it enough for readers of all ages. Synopsi If you’ve been following along for awhile, you’ll already know that one of my favorite places in the world is Lake Placid, NY. One weekend I was scrolling through Instagram (as one does) and my favorite independent bookstore, The Bookstore Plus, shared a story from author E.L. Shen with her new novel, The Comeback. She was sharing photos of it in the place it’s set: Lake Placid! I immediately knew I had to have it and after reading it, I can’t recommend it enough for readers of all ages. Synopsis: “Twelve-year-old Maxine Chen is just trying to nail that perfect landing: on the ice, in middle school, and at home, where her parents worry that competitive skating is too much pressure for a budding tween. Maxine isn’t concerned, however―she’s determined to glide to victory. But then a bully at school starts teasing Maxine for her Chinese heritage, leaving her stunned and speechless. And at the rink, she finds herself up against a stellar new skater named Hollie, whose grace and skill threaten to edge Maxine out of the competition. With everything she knows on uneven ice, will Maxine crash under the pressure? Or can she power her way to a comeback? Set in Lake Placid, New York, this is a spunky yet stirring middle-grade story that examines racism, female rivalry and friendship, and the enduring and universal necessity of love and support.” What I Liked: The Setting—Like I already said, I love Lake Placid! I haven’t been able to find a lot of book set there so when I find one, I hold on tight! I think this did a great job of bringing us into the history and pressure of the town while still bringing us a little of that Olympic magic. The Commentary on Female Competition—I loved the main character, Maxine’s, growth as a competitor and as a young woman in this book. We explore the natural feelings of jealousy with fellow skaters but we also get to see her find her footing in friendships with these skaters as well. There is a very special moment with an older skater that I think really showcases women supporting women that really stuck out to me. Not only does Maxine idolize this older skater because she shows her it’s possible to lift up fellow athletes, she also shows Maxine that she is perfect just the way she is. The Own Voices Narrative—E.L. Shen writes unapologetically about the targeted racism Maxine receives from a boy in her 6th grade class at an overwhelmingly white school. While I loved seeing Maxine’s confidence grow and her ability to “handle it” herself, I was very happy to read that the boy was held responsible for his actions. What Didn’t Work: Nothing! I would have loved this book just as much at 12 as I did at 28! TW/CW: Racism, bullying, derogatory language Character Authenticity: 5/5 Steam Rating: N/A Overall Rating: 5/5

  11. 4 out of 5

    Skip

    Asian-Americans have long been a part of figure skating, especially women, but 12-year old Maxine Chen seems to be the only Asian in Lake Placid, NY, where her family has relocated to get her the best possible coaching/training. However, it is not easy for her, with a demanding schedule, strict coaches and high parental expectations, in the face of regional and sectional competitions. Maxine is also being subject to racist bullying by a boy in school, who has hijacked her longtime friend. E.L. C Asian-Americans have long been a part of figure skating, especially women, but 12-year old Maxine Chen seems to be the only Asian in Lake Placid, NY, where her family has relocated to get her the best possible coaching/training. However, it is not easy for her, with a demanding schedule, strict coaches and high parental expectations, in the face of regional and sectional competitions. Maxine is also being subject to racist bullying by a boy in school, who has hijacked her longtime friend. E.L. Chen has written a thoughtful book about dealing with these pressures, and then along comes Hollie another (better) skater, who turns out to be as lonely as Maxine and they form a bond. Good story, good characters, and kudos to the illustrator for the wonderful skating images at the beginning of every chapter. My only complaint was insufficient explanations about the various figure skating moves, which should have been included in an appendix.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Renata

    This is a great realistic middle grade story about the hard work that goes into being a young competitive figure skater as well as the hard work that goes into being strong in the face of microagressions at school. I really loved Maxine's arc and especially the way she deals with her own jealousy of a new skater compared to the way the racist mean boy at school deals with his issues, and I appreciated that it's a story about bullying where the moral isn't "but also the bully was sad and what abo This is a great realistic middle grade story about the hard work that goes into being a young competitive figure skater as well as the hard work that goes into being strong in the face of microagressions at school. I really loved Maxine's arc and especially the way she deals with her own jealousy of a new skater compared to the way the racist mean boy at school deals with his issues, and I appreciated that it's a story about bullying where the moral isn't "but also the bully was sad and what about his feelings"?

  13. 4 out of 5

    Carin

    Maxine's family moved to way upstate New York, to Lake Placid, where she's the only Chinese-American kid at her school, and where there are multiple world-class level skating facilities and instructors, thanks to Lake Placid having hosted the Winter Olympics way before Maxine was born. Maxine practices hard every day and she's determined to master the next trick in her skating repertoire. She and her best friend have grown apart, but that's not presented as a tragedy which is nice. A new girl at Maxine's family moved to way upstate New York, to Lake Placid, where she's the only Chinese-American kid at her school, and where there are multiple world-class level skating facilities and instructors, thanks to Lake Placid having hosted the Winter Olympics way before Maxine was born. Maxine practices hard every day and she's determined to master the next trick in her skating repertoire. She and her best friend have grown apart, but that's not presented as a tragedy which is nice. A new girl at the rink, Hollie, at first seems like fierce competition for Maxine, but eventually they become friends. The titular comeback in question is what Maxine should say to this horrid boy at school next time he makes a racist remark to her. The book's description describes the events as "micro-aggressions" but there's nothing micro about these--they're pretty obvious. So Maxine and Hollie come up with some harsh but true comebacks, and next time she's bullied, she's prepared and attacks right back. The bully, naturally, is shocked by this turn of events and Maxine standing up for herself. You don't have to know anything about skating to enjoy this book. I really liked the friendship between Maxine and Hollie, who is relatively shy and homeschooled, so not a traditional school-based friendship like you normally see at this age. And it's a great message about clapping back and not just accepting being bullied. I wish at her age someone had helped me come up with a comeback or two instead of just spouting off the useless advice to "ignore them and they'll stop" (NO THEY WON'T.) It also just would have been nice to have an approach that was proactive instead of just defensive. I hope Maxine grows up to be a strong young woman mentally as well as physically.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Ele

    The Comeback may harken some darker themes, but it remains a light-hearted, feel-good story for any child who loves ice skating. Maxine is a funny and relatable main character. She's not perfect, for she can be mean, but she has the ability to understand her actions were wrong and correct them. The story discusses racist bullying and the importance of voicing your concerns. Shen manages to teach character lessons - not only moral, but others as well - without being preachy or annoying. It is wov The Comeback may harken some darker themes, but it remains a light-hearted, feel-good story for any child who loves ice skating. Maxine is a funny and relatable main character. She's not perfect, for she can be mean, but she has the ability to understand her actions were wrong and correct them. The story discusses racist bullying and the importance of voicing your concerns. Shen manages to teach character lessons - not only moral, but others as well - without being preachy or annoying. It is woven gracefully into the story, and one would never even realize it is there. Content Warnings: Racism/bullying

  15. 4 out of 5

    Kary H.

    Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this book. The Comeback is an OwnVoices middle grade novel that tells the story of Maxine Chen, a competitive figure skater. Maxine is on the verge of making it to the national scene when Hollie, a more talented figure skater, moves to Maxine’s Lake Placid hometown. The rivalry-turned-friendship aspect of the plot is so well-handled, as is the racism and bullying Maxine endures from a classmate. I loved the way E.L. Shen uses real-life Asian and Asian-American Thanks to NetGalley for an e-arc of this book. The Comeback is an OwnVoices middle grade novel that tells the story of Maxine Chen, a competitive figure skater. Maxine is on the verge of making it to the national scene when Hollie, a more talented figure skater, moves to Maxine’s Lake Placid hometown. The rivalry-turned-friendship aspect of the plot is so well-handled, as is the racism and bullying Maxine endures from a classmate. I loved the way E.L. Shen uses real-life Asian and Asian-American figure skaters as inspiration to and support for Maxine: Nathan Chen, Yuna Kim, Kristi Yamaguchi, to name a few. What I loved even more, though, was this sports-themed book featuring a strong female protagonist facing more than just her on-ice battles and achieving much more than any medal.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Hoover Public Library Kids and Teens

    Maxine doesn’t feel like an average Mirror Lake Middle School student. Not only is she training on the early mornings before school and afternoons afterward, but she’s also the only Chinese American face in a mostly White student body. With regionals just a few weeks away, things seems to be heating up everywhere she turns.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Simant Verma

    October 30, 2020: An Asian #OwnVoices middle-grade debut about skating and acceptance- what not to love? and look at that beautiful cover 😍 Thank you Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for the earc of this book.

  18. 5 out of 5

    J

    Such a great book! I thought it would be great for kids, but entertaining for adults too.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Afoma (Reading Middle Grade)

    The Comeback is a fun, insightful middle-grade book about ice skating, friendship, and bullying that is perfect for fans of books about sports. Through Maxine’s experiences, this book highlights some practical ways of handling bullying, as well as ways to be a good sport while participating in competitive sports. If you enjoy books about unlikely friendships and body image issues, you should definitely put this debut middle-grade novel on your TBR. Read my full review on my blog. Many thanks to t The Comeback is a fun, insightful middle-grade book about ice skating, friendship, and bullying that is perfect for fans of books about sports. Through Maxine’s experiences, this book highlights some practical ways of handling bullying, as well as ways to be a good sport while participating in competitive sports. If you enjoy books about unlikely friendships and body image issues, you should definitely put this debut middle-grade novel on your TBR. Read my full review on my blog. Many thanks to the author and publisher for an electronic ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ari (Books. Libraries. Also, cats.)

    Read my original review on my blog! Meet Maxine Chen: 12 year-old aspiring ice skater, Chinese-American, sassy and classy. Things are going pretty great for Maxine–her ice skating is improving each day and she can practically taste her Olympic future. Plus, she’s always got her ride-or-die best friend by her side. But when Maxine’s white classmate starts slinging racist insults at her, Maxine feels totally alone. As the bullying increases, the chasm between Maxine and her best friend widens; Read my original review on my blog! Meet Maxine Chen: 12 year-old aspiring ice skater, Chinese-American, sassy and classy. Things are going pretty great for Maxine–her ice skating is improving each day and she can practically taste her Olympic future. Plus, she’s always got her ride-or-die best friend by her side. But when Maxine’s white classmate starts slinging racist insults at her, Maxine feels totally alone. As the bullying increases, the chasm between Maxine and her best friend widens; Maxine finds herself getting closer to Hollie, a new skater in town, and this new friendship just might help her find her voice. The Comeback is a charming, heart-warming middle grade novel that deals with so many complicated themes. As Maxine becomes the target of bullying because of her Chinese-American heritage, she finds herself struggling with her own internalized racism. Maxine feels out of place in her mostly-white town of Lake Placid, and is even tempted to change her appearance in order to look more like her white classmates. This is an experience that I know so many young readers will relate to. E.L. Shen presents these complicated, heavy conversations around racism and bullying in a thoughtful way that works perfectly for the age range for this book. This is a coming of age novel that is very much about growing up and watching your friendships change. Throughout the novel, Maxine watches as a longtime friendship begins to shift. Her best friend becomes friendly with Maxine’s bully and is reluctant to stand up for Maxine, which creates a rift between the two throughout the book. Maxine has to process this change in her friendship dynamic while also learning to make space for a new friend, Hollie, whom she meets at the skating rink. I love stories about friendship growing pains and learning to let go of old friendships and making room for new ones; The Comeback tackles this so beautifully. While Maxine struggles to let go of her former best friend and open up to Hollie, she finds that this new friendship gives her the strength and inspiration that she needs. Maxine is a lovable, relatable character who is struggling with very real things. I think she’s a character that many young readers will see themselves in, and I especially loved that she had a big dose of sass and wit! Hollie was an important addition to the story, and I loved that she has a very different experience than Maxine: Hollie is white and is homeschooled in order to train for skating, while Maxine still goes to public school. Hollie also struggles with familial pressure in a way that Maxine doesn’t. These two characters are deeply different and the juxtaposition makes for an unlikely yet heartwarming friendship. Debut author E.L. Shen has definitely won me over with The Comeback. Maxine’s voice feels so real and the novel was utterly heartwarming. Shen’s writing is engaging, funny, and authentic in a way that will hook middle grade readers of all ages. I found the pacing to be spot-on, and I didn’t want Maxine’s story to end. One of my favorite aspects of the story was how much Maxine looks up to the Asian-American ice skaters who’ve come before her–this felt like a love letter to honor those skaters and to continue their legacy. You can bet I’ll be keeping my eye out for future middle grade releases from E.L. Shen. I’ll be recommending The Comeback to readers who enjoyed Ana on the Edge by A.J. Sass, Not Your All-American Girl by Wendy Wan-Long Shang & Madelyn Rosenberg, and American as Paneer Pie by Supriya Kelkar. This was my first middle grade read of 2021, and I couldn’t have picked a better one to start the year with.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Garren

    [review based on a digital advance copy] The Comeback is a middle grade novel that's figure skating competition themed, but--despite what you might guess from the title--the competition itself is not the dramatic focus. Instead, it's about Maxine coping with racist bullying in school and with some competitive envy on the ice by finding renewed confidence in herself. My heart melted a little when I realized what the book's title really meant. I'm not a figure skating aficionado. I recognized about [review based on a digital advance copy] The Comeback is a middle grade novel that's figure skating competition themed, but--despite what you might guess from the title--the competition itself is not the dramatic focus. Instead, it's about Maxine coping with racist bullying in school and with some competitive envy on the ice by finding renewed confidence in herself. My heart melted a little when I realized what the book's title really meant. I'm not a figure skating aficionado. I recognized about half of the names of Maxine's figure skating heroes and had some notion of what the most basic moves look like. While not everything is spelled out, I felt like enough of the maneuvers were explained that anyone can make good enough sense of what's happening on the ice. The drawings of Maxine in different poses at the start of each chapter helped with that too. The skating heroes may have been mentioned a few too many times overall, but their presence in Maxine's mind does turn out to be vital to her character development. I bet kids will look a lot of this stuff up on YouTube. Speaking of YouTube, I hope the publisher stakes a claim on the two Asian makeup instruction YouTube channels referred to in the book, because they don't appear to be actual channels. I can understand not wanting to point to real creators in case that causes a problem, but this also risks what kids will find when they look them up in a year or five. As far as content warnings go, the c-word slur for Chinese (in this case Chinese American) people is used explicitly several times. I worry about younger kids *learning* new slurs from these books, so I'm less excited picturing this book being used as a classroom-wide read, especially as a read aloud. Changes in friendships is a common element in middle grade books, and this is no exception. I felt this was handled very well along with the positive changes in relationships with parents. Practically the only negative stereotype reinforced by the book was another skater's shouty Russian coach, and even that wasn't overdone by much. Despite emotions running high, I was pleased to *not* see Maxine resort to fatphobic or ableist slurs which I keep running into lately in middle grade novels. Overall, this is a solid story about Maxine finding her confidence in a way that fits her. It doesn't have to be the way that fits kids reading the book, but they may do some thinking about their own strengths both from family and their individual interests.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eileen

    4.5 stars This was a great middle school debut novel that addresses racism but is centered around figure skating. I have always loved figure skating and Maxine references several of my favorite skaters, which really drew me into the story. 12-year old Maxine Chen lives in Lake Placid and is in the middle of preparing for a major competition. She loves skating and competing, but sometimes can push herself too much. What I loved about this novel is that while her parents are strict about certain th 4.5 stars This was a great middle school debut novel that addresses racism but is centered around figure skating. I have always loved figure skating and Maxine references several of my favorite skaters, which really drew me into the story. 12-year old Maxine Chen lives in Lake Placid and is in the middle of preparing for a major competition. She loves skating and competing, but sometimes can push herself too much. What I loved about this novel is that while her parents are strict about certain things, including homework and good nutrition, they also often check in with her to make sure that she still wants to do this. Much of the pressure on her comes from Maxine herself, which is refreshing to see in an Asian family. I am a Taiwanese American and I greatly appreciated this #ownvoices novel that doesn't just stereotype Asians. However, she experiences bullying for being Asian in the very white town of Lake Placid, primarily from a boy named Alex, backed up by his friends. Some of the stuff he says seems so stereotypical of a racist, except I myself experienced some of that when I was growing up. I was expecting The Comeback referenced in the title to refer to an ice skating comeback after a fiasco, and while there was some of that in this book, it was also about coming back from being bullied, and learning that adults can be part of your community and you don't have to fight alone. I also loved the friendship that Maxine developed and I loved the reference about friendship that her mom told her about trees growing at different rates and in different directions. Overall, I would recommend this for advanced elementary school kids, as well as middle school, especially if you love ice skating. I received an advance review copy for free, and I am leaving this review voluntarily.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Nadine Keels

    Like many young figure skaters, twelve-year-old Maxine dreams of competing in the Olympics one day. In the meantime, she's got an important intermediate competition to prepare for, but keeping up in middle school at the same time is hard—especially when a bully there has been teasing Maxine about her Chinese heritage in The Comeback by author E. L. Shen. Gee, this middle grade novel gave me flashbacks of reading The Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh (one of my childhood favorites!) and The Sisters I Like many young figure skaters, twelve-year-old Maxine dreams of competing in the Olympics one day. In the meantime, she's got an important intermediate competition to prepare for, but keeping up in middle school at the same time is hard—especially when a bully there has been teasing Maxine about her Chinese heritage in The Comeback by author E. L. Shen. Gee, this middle grade novel gave me flashbacks of reading The Little Gymnast by Sheila Haigh (one of my childhood favorites!) and The Sisters Impossible by J.D. Landis back in the day. The stories are all quite different, but reading about Maxine reminded me of just how serious training, competing, and performing are for young artists and athletes who pursue their passion as more than a hobby. It's basically a career. This author has a great knack for imagery, the illustrations by Dung Ho are beautiful (for starters, just look at that book cover!), and I loved the story's inclusion of the names of figuring skating legends whose work I've enjoyed over the years. Now, even with its magical cover, this wasn't a magical read for me. I don't think the reference to all the white girls at Maxine's school as "pasty" is any less insulting than it would be to refer to brown girls as "crispy." And while Maxine's inner sarcasm was sometimes mildly humorous to me, her thoughts are also rather mean at times, and her attitude is pretty disrespectful to her parents in a few scenes. Hence, I didn't really like the heroine for maybe half the book or so. Nonetheless, I warmed up to her as she began to do some growing through the story, and the book's messages on racism and healthy competition have compelling development. By the end of the novel, I was cheering. Literally.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Kerry (lines i underline)

    4.0⭐️ Shen’s debut is a winning Middle Grade title in all kinds of ways. I can imagine pressing it into the hands of many young readers. First off, the writing style is clear, direct, and has a down-to-earth tone that I think many kids will find real and accessible. This is not a poetic kind of Middle Grade reading experience, which I think makes this book better placed to have a broader audience than some books for this age group. Maxine sounds like a real kid. Her range of emotions and her way 4.0⭐️ Shen’s debut is a winning Middle Grade title in all kinds of ways. I can imagine pressing it into the hands of many young readers. First off, the writing style is clear, direct, and has a down-to-earth tone that I think many kids will find real and accessible. This is not a poetic kind of Middle Grade reading experience, which I think makes this book better placed to have a broader audience than some books for this age group. Maxine sounds like a real kid. Her range of emotions and her way of dealing with the challenges she faces feel true to life. It’s also nice to see a book about a hardworking kid pursuing her passion and not have the storyline be that she is some kind of dazzling super talent, or that she needs to achieve her Olympic dreams for all of the sacrifice to be worthwhile. I think kids will relate to Maxine’s dreams and also hopefully internalize a message that is important and worthy. Speaking of important messages, the aspect of the novel where Maxine is faced with racism and racist microaggressions is really well done. Shen brings this topic centre stage and explores it thoughtfully. The way that Maxine holds onto the inspiration provided by her Asian figure skating idols shines in strong contrast to the painful experiences she has at school. Her parents’ support through these hardships is also conveyed sensitively. This title is a fine example of realistic fiction, for kids who love sports, and stories about friendship and finding your inner strength. CW: racism, racial slurs, bullying

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kat

    Maxine Chen has a lot to deal with right now. Her figure skating lessons - which she loves, really! - are taking over everything, meaning she doesn't have time to even hang out with her best friend Victoria anymore (who, as long as we're on the topic, has a crush on the most gross guy ever). She's fine with the skating pressure, because she wants to be a champion Olympian someday, but losing Victoria really stinks. And then the gross guy starts bullying her because she's Chinese, and she never t Maxine Chen has a lot to deal with right now. Her figure skating lessons - which she loves, really! - are taking over everything, meaning she doesn't have time to even hang out with her best friend Victoria anymore (who, as long as we're on the topic, has a crush on the most gross guy ever). She's fine with the skating pressure, because she wants to be a champion Olympian someday, but losing Victoria really stinks. And then the gross guy starts bullying her because she's Chinese, and she never thought that it was a bad thing to be, but maybe it really is a big deal? She doesn't want to tell her parents about it, because they wouldn't understand. And now there's a new girl in town, Hollie, who blows her skating out of the water. And she has to take ballet classes?! How even?! Can Maxine regain her footing and make a comeback from all that's going on? Reader's Notes: I have never figure skated, but I was completely drawn into Maxine's competitive world, and found myself watching YouTube videos of various skating moves, so I could better envision what she was working on. I love Maxine, and I completely empathize with her tweenage struggles, though mine at that age were very different. I really enjoyed this story, and I hope the author writes more.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea Doyon

    Maxine Chen is in many ways a typical 12 year old. She attends sixth grade at her local middle school, is navigating changing friendships, schoolwork and overly attentive parents. But she's hiding a secret: she is being targeted by a racist bully. She knows that if her mom finds out, the social fallout will be huge, so she keeps the hurtful insults to herself. On top of all this, Max is a competitive ice skater who just found out that the new transplant from Virginia, Hollie, can do higher jumps Maxine Chen is in many ways a typical 12 year old. She attends sixth grade at her local middle school, is navigating changing friendships, schoolwork and overly attentive parents. But she's hiding a secret: she is being targeted by a racist bully. She knows that if her mom finds out, the social fallout will be huge, so she keeps the hurtful insults to herself. On top of all this, Max is a competitive ice skater who just found out that the new transplant from Virginia, Hollie, can do higher jumps on the rink and better plies in the dance studio. Talk about pressure. Help is coming for Maxine, though, from the last place she expects. I really enjoyed E.L. Shen's debut about racism, friendships from strange places and pursuing a dream. The references to ice skaters from the recent past were so fun to read, and I know that my students who love all that is ice skating and the Olympics will eat this one up! I really enjoyed Shen's easy writing style, well-suited to younger middle graders as well as those older. I hope to read many more from her! Highly recommend this one for kids in grades 3 and up. Thank you to the author and Macmillan Children's Publishing Group and the author for an early copy to review.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Misse Jones

    Shui dī shí chuān. “If you are persistent, you can overcome anything.” E.L. Shen’s The Comeback is a wonderfully written middle grade debut exploring the complexities of what it is like to be a 12 year-old athlete trying to navigate sports, school, identity issues, home life, friends and everything else. You remember middle school, right? The ups and downs? The friends who find new friends, the bullying, the cliques? It can be the best of times and the worst of times and we encounter this with ma Shui dī shí chuān. “If you are persistent, you can overcome anything.” E.L. Shen’s The Comeback is a wonderfully written middle grade debut exploring the complexities of what it is like to be a 12 year-old athlete trying to navigate sports, school, identity issues, home life, friends and everything else. You remember middle school, right? The ups and downs? The friends who find new friends, the bullying, the cliques? It can be the best of times and the worst of times and we encounter this with main character, Maxine Chen who’s passion for competitive skating is her primary focus. She is putting in the work and it shows until she begins to be the target of racial discrimination and bullying at school by classmates and a former friend. It is the. that things begin to unravel. Not only is she silently suffering at school but we see Maxine grapple with her identity and self-image. That is until she meets Hollie, forms an unlikely bond and ultimately learns to defend herself and walk into a new level of confidence. A transition that lends to learning to love and accept herself and her heritage fully. Thank you to NetGalley and MacMillan Children’s Publishing Group for the e-Arc in exchange for an honest review!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Andee

    Thank you, NetGalley, for the ARC in exchange for review. How refreshing to read a middle grade novel that doesn't dumb down emotions or racial profiling and can still be hopeful and informative. To have a strong female protagonist with flaws is a bonus. Maxine skates and has her eye on an Olympic medal. She'll take a while to get there, so in the meantime, she practices hard, keeps up her school work, and deals with lost friendships and school bullies. When she meets Hollie, a new skater in town w Thank you, NetGalley, for the ARC in exchange for review. How refreshing to read a middle grade novel that doesn't dumb down emotions or racial profiling and can still be hopeful and informative. To have a strong female protagonist with flaws is a bonus. Maxine skates and has her eye on an Olympic medal. She'll take a while to get there, so in the meantime, she practices hard, keeps up her school work, and deals with lost friendships and school bullies. When she meets Hollie, a new skater in town who is almost perfect, Maxine is not looking for a friend. Who is this superstar here to compete? When Maxine gets to know Hollie, she finds a friend. And while Maxine's parents throw every extra dollar at costumes and coaching, they still know there is more to life than at the rink. Hollie's mom is pushing for the best of the best, even if that means homeschooling to be on the rink more. Not only a story in racism and school bullies, it's also a story of perseverance and learning the grass is not always greener in the other yard. Recommend for grades 3 and up.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Magaly C.

    Maxine Chen is a 12-year-old figure skater trying to make nationals and then the Olympics! But her confidence wavers--not just because of the new figure skater/competition, Hollie--when Alex begins to bully her for being Chinese-American and her best friend, Victoria, begins to drift away from her. The one-sided arch-nemesis with Hollie becomes a budding friendship and Maxine begins to realize her inner-strength. This is a very touching middle-grade novel about ice skating and dealing with the pr Maxine Chen is a 12-year-old figure skater trying to make nationals and then the Olympics! But her confidence wavers--not just because of the new figure skater/competition, Hollie--when Alex begins to bully her for being Chinese-American and her best friend, Victoria, begins to drift away from her. The one-sided arch-nemesis with Hollie becomes a budding friendship and Maxine begins to realize her inner-strength. This is a very touching middle-grade novel about ice skating and dealing with the pressures of middle school. There is a lot of technical language around ice skating, but it was not too difficult for non-ice-skating readers to connect. Maxine's parents are loving and supportive, which was a contrast to the pressure Hollie feels. The racism Maxine experiences is very realistic (although not subtle, that's ok, middle-schoolers are pretty blatant in their hurt) and E.L. Shen does a marvelous job of describing Maxine's emotional reaction, desire for a witty comeback, and emotional wearing down. I look forward to more from Shen!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Yapha

    Maxine is pursuing her dream of figure skating in Lake Placid, NY, former host city of the Olympics. She and her parents are one of the only Asian American families in town. This isn't an issue on the ice, since she has several Asian American skating heroes to look up to. It is an issue in middle school, however, where one of the boys in her class continually taunts her with anti-Chinese slurs and microaggressions. When this gets under her skin enough to start affecting her skating, Maxine has t Maxine is pursuing her dream of figure skating in Lake Placid, NY, former host city of the Olympics. She and her parents are one of the only Asian American families in town. This isn't an issue on the ice, since she has several Asian American skating heroes to look up to. It is an issue in middle school, however, where one of the boys in her class continually taunts her with anti-Chinese slurs and microaggressions. When this gets under her skin enough to start affecting her skating, Maxine has to learn to stand up for herself. She does this with help of new girl Hollie, who is a formidable opponent on the ice and an even better friend. While this is a fun skating story on the surface, it is a also a much deeper and more important story of the subtle racism that still pervades much of America. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweis

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.