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Ten Thousand Tries

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A middle school soccer whiz’s determination to keep things from changing is tested when his father’s ALS symptoms worsen in this touching story about growing up and facing loss, perfect for fans of Shouting at the Rain. Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eigh A middle school soccer whiz’s determination to keep things from changing is tested when his father’s ALS symptoms worsen in this touching story about growing up and facing loss, perfect for fans of Shouting at the Rain. Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eighth grade universe…especially since his home universe is spiraling out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s dad, once a pro soccer player himself, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body every day. And while Mom says there’s no cure, Golden is convinced that his dad can beat this, just like any opponent, they just have to try. Golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to put ten thousand tries in, so he’s convinced if he can put that much effort in, on and off the field, he can stop everything from changing. But when his dad continues to decline and his constant pushing starts to alienate his friends and team, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being master of your universe might not mean being in control of everything. What if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?


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A middle school soccer whiz’s determination to keep things from changing is tested when his father’s ALS symptoms worsen in this touching story about growing up and facing loss, perfect for fans of Shouting at the Rain. Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eigh A middle school soccer whiz’s determination to keep things from changing is tested when his father’s ALS symptoms worsen in this touching story about growing up and facing loss, perfect for fans of Shouting at the Rain. Twelve-year-old Golden Maroni is determined to channel his hero, soccer superstar Lionel Messi, and become captain of his soccer team and master of his eighth grade universe…especially since his home universe is spiraling out of orbit. Off the field, Golden’s dad, once a pro soccer player himself, is now battling ALS, a disease that attacks his muscles, leaving him less and less physically able to control his body every day. And while Mom says there’s no cure, Golden is convinced that his dad can beat this, just like any opponent, they just have to try. Golden knows that if you want to perfect a skill you have to put ten thousand tries in, so he’s convinced if he can put that much effort in, on and off the field, he can stop everything from changing. But when his dad continues to decline and his constant pushing starts to alienate his friends and team, Golden is forced to confront the idea that being master of your universe might not mean being in control of everything. What if it means letting go of the things you can’t control so you can do the most good for the things you can?

30 review for Ten Thousand Tries

  1. 5 out of 5

    Belles Middle Grade Library

    Wow. Just wow. This book made me FEEL. Feel in ways I usually try to push back. I’m so thankful I won this in a giveaway, because I prioritize giveaway wins(along w/books for review). I was definitely going to buy it, but who knows when I would have stopped being scared to “feel” enough to read it? Y’all know I don’t like to read books that make me sad. This made me sad. So sad. BUT it also made me laugh, hopeful, happy, amazed, & grateful. Golden is an amazing kid, who has a lot going on in his Wow. Just wow. This book made me FEEL. Feel in ways I usually try to push back. I’m so thankful I won this in a giveaway, because I prioritize giveaway wins(along w/books for review). I was definitely going to buy it, but who knows when I would have stopped being scared to “feel” enough to read it? Y’all know I don’t like to read books that make me sad. This made me sad. So sad. BUT it also made me laugh, hopeful, happy, amazed, & grateful. Golden is an amazing kid, who has a lot going on in his life at once-most of it isn’t that great. The main thing is his dad getting ALS-all I knew before reading this, was that it was the same disease Stephen Hawking had. It’s sad to say, & feels weird saying it-but he was lucky. Most don’t get anywhere near living that long with it. To see such a powerful force-a man in the prime of his life, a dad & husband to four kids..an athletic man who LOVES soccer & coaching..to see what this did to him was heartbreaking. But he kept the best attitude. He made each day count. Each day was 1 more day he got with his family. Golden also deals with the threat of 1 of his 2 best friends, who has always lived next door, moving to another state. On top of that it’s the last year of middle school, & he wants nothing more than to be soccer captain, & get to, & win, the championship. This book isn’t focused on ALS, or all sad. It is balanced with the soccer, & all the other things happening in this kids life. Plus, even though Golden is in a denial of sorts(I call it hope-sometimes it’s all you have to hold onto), you know it will be sad-they say(parents)so from the very beginning. I cried during a few different parts of the book. There are so many amazing parts in here too. My favorite is the part that the cover is taken from-that scene was pure magic, & I cried at the beauty of that moment. This is full of family, friendship, loss, love, determination, struggles, hope, & even humor-when I wasn’t crying, I was laughing lol! This has amazing & relatable characters. Characters who make mistakes, & learn from them. Golden, Lucy, & Benny have an amazing friendship. Also, I don’t even like soccer, but the author wrote about it to where I enjoyed reading about it. I never felt confused or bored either with it. HIGHLY recommend! I will be thinking about this book for weeks to come, I’m sure. Such a beautiful cover of such a beautiful scene by Abigail Dela Cruz as well!💜

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Golden Maroni is a HUGE soccer fan, and aspires to be like his hero, Lionel Messi. His father, a high school teacher and soccer coach, also loves the game, but his ALS diagnosis is slowing him down considerably. Golden and his sisters, younger Roma and Whitney, and older Jaimes, can see that their father's condition is worsening, and have been told that ALS has no cure. Their biologist mother is coping the best she can, and is on top of treatment and accommodation E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus Golden Maroni is a HUGE soccer fan, and aspires to be like his hero, Lionel Messi. His father, a high school teacher and soccer coach, also loves the game, but his ALS diagnosis is slowing him down considerably. Golden and his sisters, younger Roma and Whitney, and older Jaimes, can see that their father's condition is worsening, and have been told that ALS has no cure. Their biologist mother is coping the best she can, and is on top of treatment and accommodations as the father's condition worsens. His friend and neighbor Lucy has been away for the summer, and he has cared for her cat, Curtis Meowfield. Golden is determined to be made captain of his team along with his friend Benny Ho, and have a great 8th grade year. He even approaches his doctor at his yearly physical about growth hormones, since he is the smallest in his class, but is told this isn't the time. Luckily, being small and fast is an advantage in soccer, and Golden is very invested in playing for the team his mother is coaching. He's very concerned about Lucy. Her mother is dating George, whom they call "the Dark Lord", and it seems likely that he has a job in Maine and the family will move there. Golden does a few things to sabotage the real estate agent's attempts to sell the house, but George catches onto him. The Maroni's family life is very busy, and as the father steadily declines, more and more work falls on the children. Golden isn't thrilled about combing his sisters' hair, doing his own laundry, and having to go grocery shopping, but after a talk with his father, tries to help out more and make the days more pleasant. As summer turns into fall, Golden's soccer season is a success, but his father's condition rapidly worsens, and Golden struggles with how he will continue when both his father and Lucy are gone. Strengths: I'm not a fan of sad books, but this one has a brilliant balance between soccer and every day life, and dealing with the devastating progression of ALS. There's just enough details of the father's condition, and it's contrasted with Golden's misguided belief that his father can overcome the disease. The organizational problems of a family adjusting to having one less parent to help out is also brilliantly described-- I don't know that I have ever seen morning chaos depicted quite so brilliantly in a middle grade novel. While this is sad, the family's approach is pragmatic. The mother cries occasionally, the children are told that their father is going to die, and there are difficult emotions, such as when Golden accuses his mother of wanting the father to die because she's not trying to make him "better". Golden is so wrapped up in his own problems that he doesn't notice that his friend Benny's grandmother is descending into dementia, and the two have some difficulties over soccer as well. Golden at one point says "I wish we could rewind. Before...everything. When life was perfect and I didn't even know it." (Italics mine; quote from the ARC) This is quite possibly the most poignant line in all of middle grade literature. But overall, there is a feeling of life, and living, and making the most of each day no matter what happens. I loved that Golden is determined to put in the 10,000 hours needed to make him an expert at soccer. This novel zips along like a soccer ball heading toward the goal, taking unpredictable zigs and zags along the way. Weaknesses: I could have done without the character of Gag Me, Mrs. Gagne, the bus driver and lunch lady, who was described as a "terrifying curmudgeon". Granted, that's the look I'm going for personally, but it seemed mean and out of character for Golden. It also seemed odd to start each chapter with a quote from a character in that chapter. What I really think: Note to all middle grade authors: if you have to write a sad book, include a LOT of sports details in it. I have one Messi fan who will swallow this book whole because of the soccer even though it's hard to get him to read realistic fiction. Well done, and I still tear up when I think about that line. It's so true.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kathie

    Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. TEN THOUSAND TRIES by Amy Makechnie is a story about a young boy’s dream to become a top-notch soccer player while dealing with the challenges of having a parent with ALS. It deals with the reality of living in a home where an actively involved parent now has a degenerative disease, and Golden must come to terms with some of his dreams for the future no longer in reach. Golden is obsessed with soccer. His small stature draws him t Thank you to Edelweiss+ and the publisher for an eARC of this book. TEN THOUSAND TRIES by Amy Makechnie is a story about a young boy’s dream to become a top-notch soccer player while dealing with the challenges of having a parent with ALS. It deals with the reality of living in a home where an actively involved parent now has a degenerative disease, and Golden must come to terms with some of his dreams for the future no longer in reach. Golden is obsessed with soccer. His small stature draws him to professional soccer star Lionel Messi, and he’s determined to follow in the footsteps of his parents, who were both soccer players. But Golden’s dad has ALS that’s rapidly progressing. He wants his dad to try harder to train with him to regain lost movement, and Golden refuses to believe that his dad can’t improve if he tries hard enough. Golden is thrilled when he’s given the honour of being one of his team’s captains, but he quickly learns there’s a lot more to being a good captain than simply wearing the armband. As his dad’s condition worsens and the household struggles to adjust to rebalance the workload, Golden realizes that family, friendship, and community are essential qualities of a successful team. I knew very little about ALS, and this book does an excellent job of showing its progression and impact on a family. It’s difficult to watch the deterioration of Golden’s dad, but it’s necessary to see how its rapid progression affects Golden and his family dynamic. At first, I struggled with Golden’s naivety, but I realized how desperately he wanted to avoid the truth and hold on to hope. I also really liked how supportive Golden’s friends were, especially Benny, who quietly went through his own difficulties at home and accepted the changes in Golden’s family before he did. There is a lot of soccer detail in this book, making it a great recommendation for sports fans. The ALS storyline also makes it a book to recommend to readers who enjoy sad stories. It’s on the long side for a contemporary realistic fiction story at almost 400 pages, but I will definitely be recommending it.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Batoul (The Shelf Indulger)

    4.25 stars A cute heart-warming (and heartbreaking) quick read that will definitely leave you in tears, so keep a tissue box beside you while reading it. A definite must-read!

  5. 5 out of 5

    Afoma (Reading Middle Grade)

    Ten Thousand Tries is a moving, heartwarming story about family, friendship, community, soccer, and the love of a father. This book artfully manages the delicate balance of real-life suffering with the humor we can find lurking in small, mundane moments. With engaging soccer scenes; and warm, healthy friendship and family dynamics; this book is hard to put down. If you like books about soccer, families banding together, and books that make you laugh and cry, this is not one to miss. Read my full Ten Thousand Tries is a moving, heartwarming story about family, friendship, community, soccer, and the love of a father. This book artfully manages the delicate balance of real-life suffering with the humor we can find lurking in small, mundane moments. With engaging soccer scenes; and warm, healthy friendship and family dynamics; this book is hard to put down. If you like books about soccer, families banding together, and books that make you laugh and cry, this is not one to miss. Read my full review on my blog. Many thanks to the publisher for an eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Melanie Singer

    This is a book for young readers, but as with Amy Makechnie's debut (The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair), Ten Thousand Tries will satisfy any reader who enjoys stories about family overcoming hardship. Golden is a small soccer fanatic, determined to not give up --on attaining Messi-level soccer mastery, --on friendship, --on his father, who has been diagnosed with ALS. First, the soccer details are wonderful, even for not-so-sporty-me. They add lightness to the serious subject of coming to te This is a book for young readers, but as with Amy Makechnie's debut (The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair), Ten Thousand Tries will satisfy any reader who enjoys stories about family overcoming hardship. Golden is a small soccer fanatic, determined to not give up --on attaining Messi-level soccer mastery, --on friendship, --on his father, who has been diagnosed with ALS. First, the soccer details are wonderful, even for not-so-sporty-me. They add lightness to the serious subject of coming to terms with a parent diagnosed with a terminal illness. I loved this moment when Golden picks up one of the many soccer balls rolling around the house, because that is apparently what you find on the floors of a soccer-loving family of six. He starts to practice his soccer juggling and chips the paint off the window frame. His reaction paints his family in one stroke, and ties right in with the idea of what it means to dive deep into something for the sake of mastery. Chipped doorframes are an acceptable price. The subplot of his best friend's potential move, and his struggle to accept the possibility of change works well with the larger theme of Golden and his family coming to terms with his father's ALS diagnosis, and the quick physical deterioration that the disease brings. Golden goes through the stages of grief on his journey, spending a lot of the story in denial. Through soccer, hard work, a little heartache, and help from friends, he gets to the acceptance, and the hope that is critical in an emotional middle grade story. Another favorite moment for me, one of the several that choked me up, comes when Coach, also known as mom, is giving a pep talk during the big game, and something clicks for Golden - Choose to give everything - no matter what happens next. So, for me, this story has all that I look for in middle grade - great characters, laughter and tears, and details that make the story authentic, and that teach me something. Amy Makechnie has become one of the I'll-read-everything-she-writes authors on my list. (I won an ARC of this book in a giveaway, as a reader of the author's email newsletter. I would have read it anyway, since I loved Amy Mackechnie's debut, but I feel lucky to have had the chance to read it early!)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Julia Tomiak

    Warm and witty, TEN THOUSAND TRIES tackles difficult subjects- ALS, loss, middle school- with just the right blend of humor, middle school silliness, and sentiment. It's a great book for helping middle grade readers of all ages think about how to handle disappointment, loss, and that annoying kid on your soccer team who always kicks your ball away. Golden, the main character, is funny and realistic. He has a great voice, makes some big mistakes, and learns from them. I could relate to him on man Warm and witty, TEN THOUSAND TRIES tackles difficult subjects- ALS, loss, middle school- with just the right blend of humor, middle school silliness, and sentiment. It's a great book for helping middle grade readers of all ages think about how to handle disappointment, loss, and that annoying kid on your soccer team who always kicks your ball away. Golden, the main character, is funny and realistic. He has a great voice, makes some big mistakes, and learns from them. I could relate to him on many levels, but especially because when I was Golden's age, my mother was in a wheelchair too. The struggles Golden's family tackles as it manages an ALS diagnosis are presented accurately and thoughtfully. If you like books about friendship, family, soccer/sports, and the challenges of growing up, you will love TEN THOUSAND TRIES. :)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Lucas

    When I wrestle with her hair, she cries. When I suggest we buzz it like mine, she cries. When I say she can go to school with it like it is, she cries. "I'm never going to have kids," I say, finally getting her hair into the rubber band. Roma looks in the mirror and stops crying. "I love it, brother!" I flex. Maybe I'll have ten kids. - - - - - I absolutely loved this book! It's about a boy named Golden Maroni who's obsessed with soccer and his Dad has ALS. It's quite sad at some parts, and I have When I wrestle with her hair, she cries. When I suggest we buzz it like mine, she cries. When I say she can go to school with it like it is, she cries. "I'm never going to have kids," I say, finally getting her hair into the rubber band. Roma looks in the mirror and stops crying. "I love it, brother!" I flex. Maybe I'll have ten kids. - - - - - I absolutely loved this book! It's about a boy named Golden Maroni who's obsessed with soccer and his Dad has ALS. It's quite sad at some parts, and I have to admit I almost cried. There's also just the right amount of humor sprinkled in here and there for it this book to be quite an enjoyable experience. To add on to that, here's something that I feel like hardly anyone else would notice but it's very important to me, and that is that Ziggy has type one diabetes. The section that mentions it is less than a page long, but as someone who's had type one diabetes since third grade, I've never read a book that just happens to mention it without it being literally being the entire plot. I almost wanted to cry just because of that, let alone the actual sad parts. So thank you for that! To conclude, I want to say that this book is a wonderful read for anyone, and I seriously recommend it for anyone reading it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steph

    One of my absolute favorite middle grade books of the year. A story of teamwork and grief and hope and disappointment and acceptance and reconciliation and loss and love. But mostly love. - - - - - “You don’t give up on me and I don’t give up on you.” “I won’t let you fall, Dad.” “Maybe it’s not your job to make everything better.” “Step over the white line. You are on the field now. Leave everything else behind. BE HERE.” “The universe is so big. And I’m so small.” “Such a… good boy,” he says. “Such a One of my absolute favorite middle grade books of the year. A story of teamwork and grief and hope and disappointment and acceptance and reconciliation and loss and love. But mostly love. - - - - - “You don’t give up on me and I don’t give up on you.” “I won’t let you fall, Dad.” “Maybe it’s not your job to make everything better.” “Step over the white line. You are on the field now. Leave everything else behind. BE HERE.” “The universe is so big. And I’m so small.” “Such a… good boy,” he says. “Such a good dad.” “And yet there he is. The legend. Wrapped up in a puffy orange sleeping bag. Apparently, legends take many forms.” “That’s what whiners do. They whine about stuff. They can’t help it. Sad.” “We play best when we’re together.”

  10. 5 out of 5

    Emilee (emileereadsbooks)

    Thank you Netgalley and Simon Kids for the gifted book! It takes a lot to make me cry in a book, but this book made me cry more than once. It is so touching and sincere and yet full of love and hope. Golden's dad has been diagnosed with ALS and along with his three sisters and their mom, the Maroni family is learning to cope with all the changes this means for their family. Golden struggles to accept that the outcome of this disease is inevitable, and as a result is struggling in his friendships, Thank you Netgalley and Simon Kids for the gifted book! It takes a lot to make me cry in a book, but this book made me cry more than once. It is so touching and sincere and yet full of love and hope. Golden's dad has been diagnosed with ALS and along with his three sisters and their mom, the Maroni family is learning to cope with all the changes this means for their family. Golden struggles to accept that the outcome of this disease is inevitable, and as a result is struggling in his friendships, in school, and even in his favorite thing, soccer. Full of fun sports scenes, some beautiful pictures of friendship, and some very vulnerable depictions of family life, this book is one I will recommend over and over.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Wanda

    This book was so beautifully written. The world and characters felt so real. The depiction of ALS was hard to read sometimes, but it was so necessary. The events and situations Golden went through have stuck with me. During my reading I kept asking myself, "Why doesn't anyone understand what he's going through?" But that's just it. Everyone in his life understood all too well, they were just processing and grieving in their own way. I'm excited to read other books by this author, and definitely This book was so beautifully written. The world and characters felt so real. The depiction of ALS was hard to read sometimes, but it was so necessary. The events and situations Golden went through have stuck with me. During my reading I kept asking myself, "Why doesn't anyone understand what he's going through?" But that's just it. Everyone in his life understood all too well, they were just processing and grieving in their own way. I'm excited to read other books by this author, and definitely wouldn't mind a sequel to this one someday! #netgalley

  12. 4 out of 5

    Katie Reilley

    One of my absolute favorite middle grade reads of 2021! Twelve year old Golden Maroni eats, breathes, dreams, and lives for soccer. He’s willing to put in ten thousand hours to perfect his skills and be named captain of his team. He’s also willing to put in ten thousand hours into stopping his best-friend neighbor Lucy from moving away. But most importantly, he’s determined to spend ten thousand hours helping his soccer star dad beat ALS. Full of heart, friendship, love, and loss, this is a must One of my absolute favorite middle grade reads of 2021! Twelve year old Golden Maroni eats, breathes, dreams, and lives for soccer. He’s willing to put in ten thousand hours to perfect his skills and be named captain of his team. He’s also willing to put in ten thousand hours into stopping his best-friend neighbor Lucy from moving away. But most importantly, he’s determined to spend ten thousand hours helping his soccer star dad beat ALS. Full of heart, friendship, love, and loss, this is a must buy middle grade for 2021.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Holly

    My 8th grade son read this after I gave it to him. he is very picky and typically only wants to read fantasy. If a book doesn’t grab his attention quickly he probably will put it away and read some fantasy book that he has already read 10 times. He loved this book! I just gave it to my 5th grader and she is also into it! I am next in line and I can’t wait to read this book!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Leigh

    Thank you to the publisher for an e-ARC of this wonderful novel. Ten Thousand Tries does a great job giving readers a peek into a family ravaged by ALS. For me, this story had a lot of similarities to a local family impacted by the same illness. In both cases, the dad was a much loved sports coach with young kids. I really loved this book and am so glad it's making its way into the world. Thank you to the publisher for an e-ARC of this wonderful novel. Ten Thousand Tries does a great job giving readers a peek into a family ravaged by ALS. For me, this story had a lot of similarities to a local family impacted by the same illness. In both cases, the dad was a much loved sports coach with young kids. I really loved this book and am so glad it's making its way into the world.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Sirah

    Golden has one dream: to become a powerful soccer hero like Lionel Messi. His family all loves soccer too, and when Golden finally achieves his dream of becoming the middle school soccer team captain, he's sure that he's ready to become a champion. Everyone keeps letting him know that it's okay to be upset about his dad, but Golden isn't bothered. After all, if Golden can win the soccer championship, Dad can beat ALS, right? There are a lot of hard-hitting topics in this book. Golden has to deal Golden has one dream: to become a powerful soccer hero like Lionel Messi. His family all loves soccer too, and when Golden finally achieves his dream of becoming the middle school soccer team captain, he's sure that he's ready to become a champion. Everyone keeps letting him know that it's okay to be upset about his dad, but Golden isn't bothered. After all, if Golden can win the soccer championship, Dad can beat ALS, right? There are a lot of hard-hitting topics in this book. Golden has to deal with the start of puberty and all that entails while he discovers that being team captain is harder than it looks and that his friendships require hard work to ensure no one feels left out. He also has to grow up quickly as his dad's health slowly deteriorates, his sisters worry about death for the first time, and Mom needs more help around the house. I love the way Makechnie weaves together these thought-provoking topics without chopping up the action or glossing over details. Golden insists that he's fine--until he's not, and there's so much beauty in the way that he matures throughout the story. Once again, I struggle to imagine this book being the first choice for your average middle-grade reader, but in the right hands, this is such a powerful story and I know that there are kids out there waiting for just such a book to reassure them that they are not alone.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    What a captivating, emotional read. This book made me sob…but it also made me laugh and cheer a lot, too. Incredible voice, great family and friend dynamics, and sparkling soccer scenes make this an absolute winner. It’s heartbreaking but so full of hope.

  17. 4 out of 5

    SoccerReader

    This is beautiful, completely clean, and guaranteed to make you cry. Very good middle grade.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Lindsey A

    Even as an adult, this Middle Grade novel struck a chord with me. As a soccer lover and someone who lost my father (a soccer-obsessed, girls high school coach) far too young, I’ve never related to a middle school boy more. Amy Makechnie wove a story of friendship, love and loss that both my 6th grade son and I found we couldn’t put down. From his beautiful friendship with Lucy and Benny, his passion for all things soccer and Messi, his questionable and humorous interactions with The Dark Lord, a Even as an adult, this Middle Grade novel struck a chord with me. As a soccer lover and someone who lost my father (a soccer-obsessed, girls high school coach) far too young, I’ve never related to a middle school boy more. Amy Makechnie wove a story of friendship, love and loss that both my 6th grade son and I found we couldn’t put down. From his beautiful friendship with Lucy and Benny, his passion for all things soccer and Messi, his questionable and humorous interactions with The Dark Lord, and his difficult journey of coming to grips with his beloved father’s diagnosis as he learns to take on more responsibility in his family and navigate the choppy waters of middle school, I found myself cheering for Golden with every turn of the page. Ten Thousand Tries will make you laugh and cry...and ultimately remind you that the love of your family and friends can help you get through even your most difficult days.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Tasha

    Golden knows that this is the year that he will become captain of his school soccer team. He’s been working toward a goal of practicing ten thousand times in order to master the sport. After all, his father was a pro soccer player, though now he is battling ALS, a progressive disease that is stealing his ability to use his muscles. Golden believes that as long as his father keeps on trying, he can prevent the disease from worsening. And sometimes it even seems like it is working. Golden tries to Golden knows that this is the year that he will become captain of his school soccer team. He’s been working toward a goal of practicing ten thousand times in order to master the sport. After all, his father was a pro soccer player, though now he is battling ALS, a progressive disease that is stealing his ability to use his muscles. Golden believes that as long as his father keeps on trying, he can prevent the disease from worsening. And sometimes it even seems like it is working. Golden tries to keep control of everything, making sure that his year is as perfect as possible, but there are so many things outside of his control. The soccer year doesn’t work quite as Golden planned, one of his best friends plans to move away, and his father continues to decline. Golden may need a different approach to all of these things if he is to look after his family and friends well. Makechnie is the author of The Unforgettable Guinevere St. Clair. In this second book, she writes a heartfelt story about grief and denial. While the book has soccer as a major focus, she writes it in a way that allows the games to make sense for those of us who may not know the rules. Even in the games, the clear purpose is teamwork and supporting one another, things that Golden needs to figure out in the rest of his life too. She creates amazing moments throughout the book of deep connection with one another, wise choices and intangible joys that appear out of nowhere. It’s a book about loss but also about life. Golden is a remarkable protagonist. He is so deeply in denial that at first his rationales make sense to both him and the reader. As the book and his father’s ALS progress though, the reader steadily realizes that Golden is struggling more profoundly. It’s beautifully done with grace and with a deep empathy for Golden and his family. The secondary characters in the book are all richly drawn, including Golden’s two best friends who have struggles of their own and his family members. A heart-rending look at grief, this book embraces the joy of life too. Appropriate for ages 9-12.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen Nick

    Before reading this book, I viewed author Amy Makechnie being interviewed over Zoom. The interview included not only the interviewer and the author, but also a widowed mom and her 11-year-old daughter who had lost their husband and father to ALS. The main character of this book and his family is also dealing with a husband/father who is stricken with ALS. I was touched by the widowed mom's comments during the interview about how this book helped her see their own experience from her children's p Before reading this book, I viewed author Amy Makechnie being interviewed over Zoom. The interview included not only the interviewer and the author, but also a widowed mom and her 11-year-old daughter who had lost their husband and father to ALS. The main character of this book and his family is also dealing with a husband/father who is stricken with ALS. I was touched by the widowed mom's comments during the interview about how this book helped her see their own experience from her children's perspective. (Her 11-year-old daughter was extremely enthusiastic about the read!). I found the book to be an easy and thought-provoking read. While ALS and its symptoms and realities were a strong theme in the book, there were also strong themes of friendship, middle-school angst, and the story was tied together with much related to middle school soccer, as the main character and his family members...and his closest friends...were all involved in either coaching or playing soccer. There are both touching and humorous moments. I loved how the author interspersed quotes throughout the book...many from soccer greats, but also some attributed to the book's characters. I would definitely recommend this book to young readers, which I think is the target audience, but there's something in it for adult readers, as well. Glad to hear that the author is already working toward a third book!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Maeve

    Golden Maroni has grown up in a family that absolutely loves soccer...and this year, he has a shot at becoming his middle school soccer team's captain. But Golden can't always be focused on soccer; he's grappling with his father's ALS diagnosis and his best friend's plan to move away. Ever the optimist, it's difficult for him to come to terms with both of these situations while navigating middle school, captaining, injuries, and crushes. But over time, he learns the importance of perseverance an Golden Maroni has grown up in a family that absolutely loves soccer...and this year, he has a shot at becoming his middle school soccer team's captain. But Golden can't always be focused on soccer; he's grappling with his father's ALS diagnosis and his best friend's plan to move away. Ever the optimist, it's difficult for him to come to terms with both of these situations while navigating middle school, captaining, injuries, and crushes. But over time, he learns the importance of perseverance and accepts the losses he will experience. This was a very heartbreaking story; and Golden's emotional conflict/journey throughout was believable. There were some issues that went unaddressed (a younger sibling became a religious fanatic through youtube because no one was paying attention to her??); and I wasn't particularly a fan of the writing style...but it's a book with a male protagonist who makes mistakes, learns from them, and is attune to his emotions.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Golden tries to cope with changes beyond his control. His dad, his hero, has been diagnosed with ALS. Golden is in denial about what this means and creates more havoc and stress in his life due to this. He learned that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. So, he is determined to improve his own soccer game and get his dad to return to health by working out. He also shuts out his two best friends so has no idea what is going on in their lives either. As the story progresses, Golden tries to cope with changes beyond his control. His dad, his hero, has been diagnosed with ALS. Golden is in denial about what this means and creates more havoc and stress in his life due to this. He learned that it takes 10,000 hours of practice to be good at something. So, he is determined to improve his own soccer game and get his dad to return to health by working out. He also shuts out his two best friends so has no idea what is going on in their lives either. As the story progresses, readers see him start to shed this selfish focus and step up as a son, friend and team captain. Soccer is interwoven through the entire plot. This family lives for the game. Readers see how Golden figures the world out based on what his soccer hero, Messi, does and would do. Then finally realizes he needs to be himself and focus on what others need. Some abrupt storyline changes but captures the emotional drain of a family dealing with a fatal disease.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Amber Webb

    The saying goes that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. But what happens when even that isn't good enough? What happens when you are a master, the best and then something happens and your dreams are dashed? That doesn't seem right or fair. Golden has to manage his soccer dreams, school and his family stuff in his biggest year yet, all while trying to get his 10,000 hours of soccer in to become a master. Makechnie does a wonderful job of understanding what is going on in a kid The saying goes that it takes 10,000 hours to become a master at something. But what happens when even that isn't good enough? What happens when you are a master, the best and then something happens and your dreams are dashed? That doesn't seem right or fair. Golden has to manage his soccer dreams, school and his family stuff in his biggest year yet, all while trying to get his 10,000 hours of soccer in to become a master. Makechnie does a wonderful job of understanding what is going on in a kid's head when they want something so badly and need to deal with all the distractions of life. The characters were fun and interesting and the plot line solid. There was joy, humor, sadness, pain, loss, struggle, challenge, relationships and so much more wound in this story. A beautiful story of letting go and changing your view of masterful.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Candice

    Golden is part of a huge soccer loving family. His mom and dad are coaches, and his dad is the GOAT! He has the best of friends in Benny and Lucy and then everything changes. Golden’s dad is diagnosed with ALS, he starts shutting out Benny because he’s embarrassed of dad, Lucy comes home with horrible news, and he wages war on the Dark Lord. Golden wants badly to be just like his soccer idol, Messi, and will do anything he can to get there...but can he be the leader his teammates need on the fie Golden is part of a huge soccer loving family. His mom and dad are coaches, and his dad is the GOAT! He has the best of friends in Benny and Lucy and then everything changes. Golden’s dad is diagnosed with ALS, he starts shutting out Benny because he’s embarrassed of dad, Lucy comes home with horrible news, and he wages war on the Dark Lord. Golden wants badly to be just like his soccer idol, Messi, and will do anything he can to get there...but can he be the leader his teammates need on the field and that his family needs off the field? This is a wonderful novel that brings awareness to ALS, highlights good sportsmanship, family, and the concepts of a TEAM. It’s a great middle grade novel, but also for advanced 4th or 5th graders as well. I received this book as an advanced copy as part of #BookPosse, but it is my honest option that you should definitely read it!

  25. 4 out of 5

    Patti Barker

    Such a great story of perseverance, friendship and love. Golden Maroni want to be the best at soccer, like his idol, Messi and also his own Dad who is now suffering from ALS. Malcom tracks the hours he practices and thinks he is helping his Dad get better by pushing his Dad to work out with him. When Golden is elected co-captain of his middle school soccer team along with one of his best friends, Lucy, he thinks everything is falling into place. But that is exactly when things begin to spin out Such a great story of perseverance, friendship and love. Golden Maroni want to be the best at soccer, like his idol, Messi and also his own Dad who is now suffering from ALS. Malcom tracks the hours he practices and thinks he is helping his Dad get better by pushing his Dad to work out with him. When Golden is elected co-captain of his middle school soccer team along with one of his best friends, Lucy, he thinks everything is falling into place. But that is exactly when things begin to spin out of control- with his Dad's health, his family and his friendships, and worst of all his place on the team. Well written and full of lessons for both middle school students and adults.

  26. 4 out of 5

    LS Johnson

    A very balanced story involving family,friendships, neighborhoods, school and community. And of course, soccer. But remember that this involves a father with ALS so there is only one possible ending. Don’t pick up this book with tissue nearby or expecting some miraculous ending. But the ending is very satisfying.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Mama K

    Just okay for me. Loved her first book, but this one didn't grab my attention as much. Just okay for me. Loved her first book, but this one didn't grab my attention as much.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Bartrand

    Another winner from this author. I loved Guinevere St. James and now Golden and family have a special place in my heart. Much to love about this one.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Porter

    Loved this book!!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Stuart Jennings

    This is a beautiful story about family, love, hardship and the ability to grow with all the above... Amy Makechnie has written a beautiful moving story...and one that a child can take their time reading...it's a long one...;) If you want your children to read a moving and inspiring story, this would be a good one... Highly Recommended... This is a beautiful story about family, love, hardship and the ability to grow with all the above... Amy Makechnie has written a beautiful moving story...and one that a child can take their time reading...it's a long one...;) If you want your children to read a moving and inspiring story, this would be a good one... Highly Recommended...

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