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Blue Banyan Books Off Track
Off Track by Tamika Gibson is an intense yet wistful, funny and ultimately inspiring novel, that makes a great addition to the repertoire of dramatic teen romances. Told from the engaging perspectives of dual protagonists 16 year-old Kayla Francis and 17 year-old Joel de Freitas, the novel explores Caribbean high school athletics, where success brings more than glory.
Focused and gifted with unrelenting drive, Kayla has one goal – make it to the Trinidad and Tobago Olympic team. But Kayla has no interest in glory or fame. The focus and determination that makes her the envy of her teammates comes because for her track is a path out of the circle of things to be fixed, near empty bellies, and always waiting for the end of the month. All she wants is a chance to break out from the poverty slowly eating away at her mother and grinding down her younger sisters and escape the violence always at the edge of their world in the form of their aunt’s abusive, lecherous boyfriend. So, she has no time to worry about her relationship with her semi-estranged father. She has no time for fun and friends and definitely not for her growing interest in her teammate Joel.
But Joel has far more to him than fast legs and a charming smile. With his father’s track legacy looming large in the public mind, it seems Joel was born to run. But as much as he has been running toward his dreams of Olympic gold he has been trying to out the shadows from his father’s past, a father whom he has never net, but whose mistakes have shaped Joel’s own path.
The story features themes that range across athletics, family, growing up, crime, and migration, love as well as romantic and filial love. Set in contemporary Trinidad and Tobago, Off Track is grounded in a Caribbean life and culture but has themes that teens anywhere can understand – the ways in which expectations and aspirations may turn into burdens we have to carry and hurdles to be overcome. Ultimately, Off Track is a lively, vibrant story about taking control of your own destiny, facing challenges head on and that even when you stumble of even fall, with great determination, nothing can get you off track from your dreams.
For readers 14yrs and older
Themes: Sports, dreams