War and speech (Teen Fiction)

Teen books are great fun for adults to read, and this one looks to be a winner with great reviews from tried and true sources.

Title: War and speech; Author: Zolidis, Don;  Publication Date: 2020; ISBN: 9781368010078

After Sydney’s dad is imprisoned for financial crimes, she is enrolled at the Eaganville School for the Arts, where speech is life. Luckily, the social faux pas she makes in front of a member of the speech team is offset by the new friends she makes. When Sydney learns that each of them has suffered at the hands of the speech team and that the coach himself has ties to her father, they band together to plot the team’s downfall. But when Sydney lands a spot on the team—as a plant—and makes it to nationals, will she choose to exact vengeance or take a shot at glory? Sydney’s lively voice, the Mean Girls-esque school environment, and the specially formulated plans for each “bad” guy’s downfall will help readers speed through Zolidis’ lengthier tome. The novel’s diverse cast of well-developed characters and sly commentary on toxic sportsmanship (by focusing on an academic sport instead of a clichéd football story line) make this an excellent choice for book clubs everywhere.

Booklist
May 8, 2020

Gr 9 Up—Sydney’s life has been upended by her parents’ divorce and her father’s imprisonment for tax fraud. She moves across town and gets a fresh start at Eaganville School for Arts, where she is shocked to find that the speech and debate team kids are the alphas. After engaging in verbal altercations with several speech team members and witnessing the toxic culture created by the coach, Sydney vows to take them down. She is encouraged to do so by her new friends, fellow misfits Lakshmi, Thomas, and Elijah. They devise a plan where Sydney will join the team and destroy it from within; not part of the plan is the realization that Sydney has a natural talent for speech, especially once she looks within and summons the confidence to tell her own story. And once she smells victory, she’s not sure if she can throw away her solid shot at winning. Sydney is white, while secondary characters have diverse backgrounds and cultures. Zolidis, a playwright, has written an entertaining book that is also smart and thought-provoking. VERDICT Hilarious from start to finish with fast-paced dialogue and one ridiculous scenario after another, this book will fly off the shelves.

School Library Journal
April 1, 2020