Sports in YA

If there’s something I’ve realised in the past year of blogging, it’s that I need to read more. BUT SARAH, HOW ARE YOU PLANNING ON READING MORE WHEN YOU’RE ALREADY AIMING TO READ 200 BOOKS THIS YEAR?! Agreed. Unless I quit uni and quit my jobs and quit going outside (because who needs vitamin D when supplements are a thing?), it’s unlikely that I’ll be able to read many more books that that. Believe it or not, I try to have a life outside of reading. I tend to forget that fact quite a lot though…

BUT ANYWAY. What I meant was that I need to read MORE of different stuff! Stuff I haven’t picked up before. I’m so sick of the same clichéd contemporaries, and which I will admit that I’ve really diversified my reading in the past couple of years and I’m loving all the queer stories I’ve been devouring and all the amazing novels featuring POC leads, there’s still more books to be read out there. I’ve barely even touched historical fiction, high fantasy intimidates me, and trying to venture into the NA realm is a scary thought I’d rather save for another day. Or maybe I’ll just put that thought on pause until I’m trying to get to sleep tonight. That sounds like a good idea to me.

However, I’m not going to be talking about any of those things today. Today, I want to talk about another aspect of reading I haven’t really ventured too deep into yet — SPORTS YA. That’s right! In case you didn’t already realise, there are young adult stories about pretty much every aspect of teenage-hood out there. First love? Check. Cheesy high school proms? Correctamundo. Love triangles, and love curing mental illness, and the gay sidekick? Done and dusted! AND NOW — NOVELS FOR THAT YOUNG SPORTS PERSON IN YOUR LIFE.

Let me get something off my chest — I’m not really that into sports. … PHEW, THANK YOU FOR BEING SO UNDERSTANDING. Gosh, I really thought you guys would hate me for saying that. I mean, it’s not like we’re all super into books here and spend our time reading blogs ABOUT books and living in bookstores. It’s not like we never see the light of day, forget that humans need actual food, and try to charge ourselves with our laptop chargers when we’re delirious from a lack of sleep because we were trying to finish THAT BOOK. Haha ha ha… I’m not speaking from experience or anything.

But despite me not being super into sports, I think it’s time to rip off the floaties and dive into this whole different playing field. SEE? I MADE TWO SPORTS REFERENCES IN ONE SENTENCE. I THINK I CAN DO THIS. So yes, it’s time for me to start reading more YA books that I haven’t previously been super interested in, because you know what? Some of the best reads you’ll experience are those that you took a chance on and lay just outside your reading comfort zone. You’ll thank me one day.

Today I’d like to share some of the sports YA books I’ve already had the chance to read, and some I hope to read in the near future. Enjoy!


Wing Jones

Wing Jones is nothing like what I expected it to be. I was completely, utterly, and irrevocably blown away by this novel, and even though it’s one of two sports YA books I’ve read recently, it’s one that I know I’ll be recommending for years to come. I adored the elements of magical realism that were intwined in the ‘running’ thread of the storyline, and I loved how this was used as a form of self-help after a tragic incident.

 This book was just like a hug in page form. The family dynamics felt genuine and realistic, the running was worked seamlessly into the narrative that made it feel like it wasn’t really a sports YA book, and it left me a little different from when I started reading it. IT’S SIMPLY SENSATIONAL. If you haven’t picked up this book yet, you have to make that one of your top priorities.


The Harper Effect

I must admit, I was initially intimidated by this book because of the amount of talk about tennis very early on. There was references to the game that I didn’t understand and meetings with coaches, and it made me question whether this was going to be a book I related to. However, the further into this book I got, I found it easier to slip into the narrative and follow the life of Harper and her aspirations.

While I didn’t condone the actions of the protagonist sometimes and dislike the love triangle trope (especially because it’s between two sisters and a guy they both have a crush on) if you’re willing to overlook these minor details, you might enjoy this summery contemporary that takes place on the tennis court.



Okay, I’m kind of cheating with this one because it’s a comic and not a book, but it’s written by our favourite C.S. Pacat, author of Captive Prince. While this comic is only up to its third issue at the moment, I’ve loved every single page. The illustrations are gorgeous, the characters feel like they could step right off the page, and I cannot WAIT to see where this story goes. I’ve heard that this is going to be a queer, m/m love story, and I need more of those in my life. PLUS, FENCING LOOKS SO COOL!


Harry Potter

One word: QUIDDITCH.

And now for some sports YA I’m hoping to read soon!


Head of the River

  • rowing competition
  • self-doubt and high stakes
  • #LoveOzYA


Coming Up For Air

  • swimming
  • missing out on the high school experience
  • cute romance


Phantom Limbs

  • grief
  • aspirations to be an Olympic swimmer
  • heartbreaking


Girl Against the Universe

  • bad luck
  • tragedy
  • irresistible aspiring tennis player


Exit, Pursued by a Bear

  • cheerleading
  • sexual assault
  • blame and fighting back

Let's Talk

Have you read any of these books I’ve mentioned? Do you read many sports YA books? Do you have any recommendations? Are there any sports you’d like to see included in YA? I’d love to know!

Thanks to Pan Macmillan Australia for providing me with a copy of The Harper Effect in exchange for an honest review!


18 thoughts on “Sports in YA

  1. I was about to say that I don’t like books about sports…but QUIDDITCH. So basically: I like fictional sports? Haha. Some of these other ones are on my TBR piles, though, especially PHANTOM LIMBS and EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR. Ooh, I had not heard of FENCE, but C.S Pacat? Yes, please!

  2. I read Wing Jones and love it!! Girl against The Universe is on my TBR and I’ve never of Phantom Limbs and Exit, Pursued By A Bear but they sound like good reads! Great post as always 😃

  3. I adore sports in books. Seriously, I’ve read so many of them now. I’ve read all of Miranda Kenneally books except for this last one. They are amazing! They are fun, heartbreaking and just really good. I read way more NA sports romance than YA – but ah I love them.

  4. Girl Against the Universe is probably my fave sports YA book! It’s not too heavy on the tennis terms so you’re not confused half the time but it gives you just enough to get invested in the sport! Plus it has a certain cute tennis boy that makes it so good 😊

  5. I read a few of Miranda Kenneally’s earlier sport books and enjoyed them. They have a unique flare to them and very interesting plotlines. I highly recommend Julia Cross’ YA sports novels. I find they have a great balance between character growth, romance and coming of age.

  6. Yeees, I love Exit, Pursued by a Bear; I talk about it in almost all my own posts. I do have several of those books on my own tbr and hope to get to them soon. I hope you enjoy them!

  7. One of my favourite books is Catching Jordan by Miranda Kenneally. It’s a book about romance and football, but it doesn’t get bogged down in football terms. I’m slowly making my way through the rest of her books.

    These books sound interesting. I want to read The Harper Effect and Exit, Pursued By a Bear.

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