Cover image for Defending Irene
Defending Irene
Nitz, Kristin Wolden.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
Atlanta, Ga. : Peachtree, [2004]

Physical Description:
185 pages ; c 23 cm
A thirteen-year-old American girl plays on a fiercely competitive boy's soccer team during the year her family spends in Italy and experiences culture clashes both on and off the field.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.9 7.0 82397.
Geographic Term:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
J FICTION Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



"This is not a game for you here," Matteo hissed. "Do you want to make us lose?"
Irene loves soccer, a passion she inherited from her Italian father. She thrills to the sound and feel of the ball exploding off her foot for a shot at the goal. At school back in Missouri she was one of the top players on her girls' team. But things are different in Merano, Italy, where the bilingual Irene and her family have come for a yearlong stay. There is no soccer team for girls in the small, very traditional Alpine town. Irene decides to join the highly competitive boys' team, but she has little idea what she's getting herself into. She must prove herself to the strict coach, the "mister." And her teammates make it clear they don't want her on the field. Especially Matteo, the team's star player, who goes out of his way to make Irene unwelcome. But Irene does not give up easily, even when the disapproval of her Italian grandmother and the doubts of her new classmates-including her best friend, Giulia-threaten to undermine her confidence.
Author Kristin Nitz has created a complex adolescent character whom readers will root for as she struggles to find her place on the team and in a new country. The story also offers a fascinating and often humorous look at a collision of cultures as well as lively descriptions of fast-paced action on the soccer field.

Author Notes

KRISTIN WOLDEN NITZ is very familiar with Italian culture. Like Irene, she and her family spent time living in that country. An avid sports fan, coach and the author of many magazine articles on kids and sports, Nitz has also written nonfiction books including Play By Play Softball, Play By Play Track, and Play By Play Field. She lives with her husband and three children in Michigan.

Reviews 1

School Library Journal Review

Gr 5-7-Irene Benenati, 13, is living in Italy with her family for one year. Because there are no girls' soccer teams in Merano, she must play on the boys' team. Daily, the teen faces the reality that she is an outsider in her father's homeland and an outsider on a team with a few boys who want her to quit. Nonetheless, this likable protagonist befriends the girls in her class and finally wins the respect of her teammates, even her arch detractor. What keeps this tale from being just another soccer story with play-by-play action is the unique setting; the inventiveness of the chapter headings, which consist of Italian words, pronunciations, and definitions; and Irene's determination.-Blair Christolon, Prince William Public Library System, Manassas, VA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.