First Impression Friday: “We Ride Upon Sticks” by Quan Barry

Welcome back to First Impression Friday! This week’s book is yet another Fantastic Stranglings book, We Ride Upon Sticks. I will admit that absolutely nothing prepared me for the summary of this book:

From Amazon:

Acclaimed novelist Quan Barry delivers a tour de female force in this delightful novel. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography—from Heathers to “big hair”—Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.

Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society’s stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.

The first thing I noticed is that the book is written in first-person plural, with the narrator using “us” and “our” and “we” throughout, but it is never made explicitly clear who the narrator is. I kept thinking, “Okay, they’ve named that character, which means the narrator has to be — oh, wait. Maybe it’s someone else? Wait, who is the narrator?” and I think I’ve come to the conclusion that everyone is the narrator? It’s a really weird style of writing, to be sure, but I think the entire hockey team is narrating the book.

I am 47 pages into this book as I’m writing this, and I’m really hoping this doesn’t become a DNF. I’m starting to get bogged down in various things, and I was looking forward to more, I dunno, mysticism, especially since it takes place in Salem with descendants of the people from the Salem Witch Trials? I hope the book picks up steam in the near future, or it’s going to be one heck of a slog to get through this.

At the moment, I’m predicting a 2 or a 3 star review out of this one. It’s nothing that particularly stands out, but maybe for those who are obsessed with field hockey, it will hit all the right marks.

What are you reading this week? Have you joined the FS book club? Let me know in the comments!

And as always, keep reading.

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