THE IMPROBABLE GOALS OF SOFIA HERNANDEZ is a 38K Middle Grade contemporary novel reminiscent of Bend it like Beckham with themes and tone similar to Takedown.

An eleven-year old, recent immigrant from Mexico, Sofia’s only goal in life after moving to the States is to make a friend. But now she wants more, she wants what her brother, Antonio, has – respect, friends and an easy time fitting in – all due to being the star of the soccer team. She’d join, too, except her normally supportive, extended family scoff at the idea of Sofia succeeding in a male dominated sport. In Mexican culture, girls and sports don’t mix.

Inspired from a school visit by a great female soccer player, Sofia’s new goal becomes to prove to the boys in her family that she can play soccer. Sofia joins a team and makes a bet with Antonio. Soccer, it turns out, isn’t as easy as it looks. Being a team player is even harder. And it only gets worse after a cruel encounter on the field leaves her embarrassed of her Mexican roots. Sofia might lose her only friend if she continues to play. But she’ll lose the chance to change an unsupportive stigma if she quits. She’ll need to learn mad soccer skills and work through cultural differences and insecurities to reach her goals—all before the clock can run out on her bet with Antonio.

I am an #ownvoices writer, an active member of SCBWI and a mother to three active, soccer-loving girls. I have a BA in English and an MA in Education.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Regards,

Lori Keckler

 

THE IMPROBABLE GOALS OF SOFIA HERNANDEZ

Fans in the stands cheered wildly as I, or rather, my avatar faked left and dodged an opposing player. Sombreros and painted faces danced in the stadium as miniature green, red and white Mexican flags shook like maracas. None of it was real, it was just a video soccer game. But I had the highest scores and, also, I had a pretty good imagination.

I imagined the crowd chanting “Sofia, Super Estrella!”

The cheers pumped me up. The avatar I’d chosen had brown skin and black hair like me. I pushed the control button to the right while pressing the B button. My avatar moved left to steal the soccer ball from an opponent.

“Make way for the youngest futbol pro ever!” I said in my best announcer’s voice. Television cameras would zoom in on me and the world would watch, breathless, with eagle eyes to see if I could pull off another win.

I dribbled the ball down the field. Imagining the the players chasing me and with seconds left on the clock, I pushed up harder toward the goal. Fortunately, I knew the flaw in the program. If I shot up and left I would score. I ran the ball into position, my heart pounding. And then—

A hand shoved my head forward, knocking me back into reality. My thumb slipped across the controller sending the ball right instead of left. I missed the goal. The fake crowd moaned. Antonio, my older brother, cackled behind me.

“Hey!” I shrieked and turned to bat Antonio with my arm. “You made me miss my goal!”

He jumped out of reach and laughed. Sometimes it seemed our ages were reversed. That I was the thirteen-year old and he was eleven. Why couldn’t we have left him back home in Mexico? There, with more cousins around, he used to ignore me. But here in the United States, I had become his main target.

“You lose! That’s my game and you didn’t ask if you could borrow it. Besides, you’re not supposed to play video games before school.”

“You’re just jealous cause I’m better than you.” I switched off the television with the remote. I hopped off the couch. My foot got tangled in the fringe of the striped sarape Mami had brought to Austin from our hometown in Puebla, Mexico when we moved last summer. I stumbled onto the floor and winced as my elbow slid across the carpet. Was there any chance Antonio hadn’t seen that?

“Oh, yeah. So jealous.” Antonio peered over and down at me as I scrambled back up. “Video game soccer. How many trophies have you won playing video game soccer? That’s right. None!” He pointed to the trophy gleaming on the mantle above the fireplace, its gold outshining the ceramic mariachi band figurines, the photos of family and the small statue of la Virgen de Guadalupe. Mami made room for the trophy at our family dinner last fall to celebrate the end of soccer season.