Review Blog

Jul 31 2013

The Academy: Game on by Monica Seles and James LaRosa

cover image

Bloomsbury, 2013. ISBN 9781408841600. 241p.
(Age: 13+) The Academy: Game on looks and feels like a Mills and Boon title and its classic plot doesn't contradict this first impression. Girl from the wrong side of the tracks becomes entangled with boy A and clashes with boy B, only to realize that it's boy B she's wanted all along.
The setting is a kind of college for rich kids but actually this sporting academy in Florida, epitomizes the success ethos cultivated in many middle and upper class American children. The Academy becomes a kind of purgatory for the rich, athletic or both. Exceptions are made when the elite students break rules but on the other hand, the scholarship kids live with the uncertainty of expulsion from week to week. Having honed her tennis skills for years to get into The Academy, surprisingly Maya befriends teens from both social classes. Cleo, another scholarship kid, is her roommate wrestling with her sexual identity and Renee is a swimmer whose rich parents never visit. Maya quickly attracts the attention of both Travis and Jake, the sons of the school's founder and owner. This connection gets her out of one or two tight spots, but Nicole, the most successful young Pro on the tennis circuit, repeatedly tricks Maya whom she perceives as a potential rival in many ways.
The Academy: Game on would seem innocuous enough as a teen romance even if we overlook the shallow characters of both sexes who are consumed with status, appearance and winning at all costs. Yet there are no consequences in the world of The Academy - not for bullying including heinous cyber bullying, not for convoluted and destructive mind-games, and not for favouritism, vandalism or prejudice. In the real world, such behaviours would break the most balanced girl. The Academy: Game on is a disappointing paperback romance, co-written by a famous sporting identity, yet her fictional world fails to teach young women anything about a life well-lived.
Deb Robins

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