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Reviewed by Savannah Aldridge for Readers' Favorite
Squad Goals by Shequeta Smith, Qazzran Alamry, and Alivon Ortiz begins with four different young women who are arrested for crimes committed under complicated circumstances. After being sentenced to the Wiley Moon Juvenile Detention Center, they are forcibly united through an unorthodox rehabilitation project: competing in a cheerleading squad. Meanwhile, private school championship coach Faith Walker is pushed out of her job after a competition accident cost her team the title. While on the hunt for a new job, Coach Walker gets an interview at Wiley Moon, which she soon discovers is not an academy. Together, Coach Walker and the Wiley Moon Scorpions cheer squad wrestle with perseverance, overcoming frustrating circumstances, and believing in themselves.
This book was so good, I read it in a single sitting! It’s not often that I encounter a graphic novel with a women-led narrative, especially with so many diverse characters. Throughout Squad Goals, Shequeta Smith does not shy away from challenging topics like mental illness, divorce, systematic prejudices, poverty, bullying, and grief among the cast, and shows real-life people who often don’t get to be heroines in a story, such as a working mom who is close with her children. Visually, the novel is vibrant and enjoyable, with the vivacity needed to capture the action of a sports story. The artists (Alamry and Ortiz) do a wonderful job showing the personality and depth of the characters, and the text and bubbles are easy to follow. My only complaint is that I wanted to see more of the Wiley Moon Scorpions interacting with one another. I hope a sequel is coming!