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Nikki on the Line

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Nikki wants to be a basketball star... but between school stress, friend drama, and babysitting woes, will she be able to make it on her new team? Thirteen-year-old Nikki Doyle's dreams of becoming a basketball great feel within reach when she's selected to play on an elite-level club team. But in a league with taller, stronger, and faster girls, Nikki suddenly isn't the Nikki wants to be a basketball star... but between school stress, friend drama, and babysitting woes, will she be able to make it on her new team? Thirteen-year-old Nikki Doyle's dreams of becoming a basketball great feel within reach when she's selected to play on an elite-level club team. But in a league with taller, stronger, and faster girls, Nikki suddenly isn't the best point guard. In fact, she's no longer a point guard at all, which leaves her struggling to figure out who she is and how she fits in. The stress piles on as Nikki's best friend spends more and more time with another girl on the team, and when her science teacher assigns a family tree project that will be impossible to complete unless Nikki reveals her most embarrassing secret. As if that's not enough to deal with, to cover the costs of her new team, Nikki has agreed to take care of her annoying younger brother after school to save money on childcare. As the stakes rise on the basketball court, at school, and at home, Nikki's confidence plummets. Can she learn to compete at this new, higher level? And how hard is she willing to work to find out?


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Nikki wants to be a basketball star... but between school stress, friend drama, and babysitting woes, will she be able to make it on her new team? Thirteen-year-old Nikki Doyle's dreams of becoming a basketball great feel within reach when she's selected to play on an elite-level club team. But in a league with taller, stronger, and faster girls, Nikki suddenly isn't the Nikki wants to be a basketball star... but between school stress, friend drama, and babysitting woes, will she be able to make it on her new team? Thirteen-year-old Nikki Doyle's dreams of becoming a basketball great feel within reach when she's selected to play on an elite-level club team. But in a league with taller, stronger, and faster girls, Nikki suddenly isn't the best point guard. In fact, she's no longer a point guard at all, which leaves her struggling to figure out who she is and how she fits in. The stress piles on as Nikki's best friend spends more and more time with another girl on the team, and when her science teacher assigns a family tree project that will be impossible to complete unless Nikki reveals her most embarrassing secret. As if that's not enough to deal with, to cover the costs of her new team, Nikki has agreed to take care of her annoying younger brother after school to save money on childcare. As the stakes rise on the basketball court, at school, and at home, Nikki's confidence plummets. Can she learn to compete at this new, higher level? And how hard is she willing to work to find out?

30 review for Nikki on the Line

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Reads Ravenously

    3 stars Honestly, this book gave me anxiety. All the things Nikki was dealing with and then more problems added in, I was very eager to get to the resolution of this book. As an adult reader, I enjoyed but did not love. As a children's librarian, I will be recommending this book to middle graders frequently!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Fitzgerald

    A great book for middle-graders who are interested in sports. I’m an adult, not a big sports fan, and I found it fascinating! There are lessons to be learned about good sportsmanship, family commitment,and friendship. And many details about how to play good basketball! Memorable Quotes: (Pg.315)-“Good shooting, Lefty. Looks like you figured out how to not let what you can’t do stop you from doing what you can do.”-Coach Duval

  3. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    A wholesome and engaging book championing the positive benefits of hard work. There's a lot to like about this debut author's novel. Nikki, the titular character is an admirably determined young woman. Her relationships with both friends and family members rang with authenticity. Her mother and basketball coaches held her to high standards and none of them allowed for excuses. Nikki, also pushed herself both academically and in her beloved sport of basketball. Famed UCLA coach John Wooden's A wholesome and engaging book championing the positive benefits of hard work. There's a lot to like about this debut author's novel. Nikki, the titular character is an admirably determined young woman. Her relationships with both friends and family members rang with authenticity. Her mother and basketball coaches held her to high standards and none of them allowed for excuses. Nikki, also pushed herself both academically and in her beloved sport of basketball. Famed UCLA coach John Wooden's quote, "Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do," served as her guiding force. Hard to find fault with that message!

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    Public Library Copy Yes, five stars. Go get a copy and read it right now. Nikki is looking forward to playing on a competitive travel basketball team, especially since her friend Adria is also on it. It's a struggle for her single mother to afford the fees, but basketball is what Nikki really loves. In order to help out, Nikki offers to babysit her high-energy younger brother after school. School is a bit of a struggle for Nikki, so she hopes to be able to have time to fit everything in. When her Public Library Copy Yes, five stars. Go get a copy and read it right now. Nikki is looking forward to playing on a competitive travel basketball team, especially since her friend Adria is also on it. It's a struggle for her single mother to afford the fees, but basketball is what Nikki really loves. In order to help out, Nikki offers to babysit her high-energy younger brother after school. School is a bit of a struggle for Nikki, so she hopes to be able to have time to fit everything in. When her science teacher assigns a family tree project, she is upset for another reason; her mother had both children through artificial insemination and she doesn't want anyone to know. Another student, Booker, also doesn't want to do the project because his parents were drug addicts who abandoned him, and his kindergarten teacher adopted him. Nikki has a very motivated teammate, Kate, who has a very pushy father who wants to see Kate get a college scholarship. When Nikki overhears the two talking about Kate's lack of height and wondering why she is wasting everyone's time, this undermines her confidence and she starts to back off from taking shots. She starts to think that maybe she should add different skills to her game, and decides that the team could use someone who can make good three point shots. She doesn't want to tell Adria about this, since Adria's father has always coached her, so she asks Booker for help. When her grades drop, her mother threatens to make her go back to a county league. Nikki struggles with the challenges of balancing school work, team activities and friendship, as well as her new knowledge about her father, in this fast-paced, valued-added sports novel. Strengths: My rule of thumb for a great sports novel: are there enough details about the sport that I don't quite understand all of it? Then there are enough details for the readers who play those sports! This had basketball galore, but also important middle grade issues like personal identity, friendship diffictulties and school/life balance. I actually know a 6th grade boy whose biological background is similar, and I may recommend this to his mother. Nikki's reactions to everything are spot on, her struggles with her younger brother relatable, and her slight romance with Booker really charming. I also adored Booker's father and the fact that Booker has a lot of chores. There are never, ever enough books about sports for children, especially girls' sports, and this is just perfect. Weaknesses: Sure, Nikki's mother is a college research librarian and likes to read, but she went to a lot of trouble to have her children, and when she wanted to finish a book rather than play basketball with Nikki, that didn't seem right! She seemed oddly disconnected from the children. Will young readers notice this? No. But I know I made a point to always drop everything for my girls, and they went to haircuts and the grocery store with me, as well! They are both away from home now, so that may be why I found this disconcerting. Just miss them! What I really think: Can I justify buying two copies?? Yes. Yes I can.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Lynn

    Hurray! A wonderfully engaging story about a young female athlete that incorporates terrific sports action - something that is sadly rare. Roberts has a real flair for sports writing and the many games and practices depicted in the book have a terrific you-are-there feel that is a real delight. This story also provides a wonderfully authentic look at the world of youth athletics encompassing the fierce competition, the often-intense parents, practices, pressures and sacrifices required to Hurray! A wonderfully engaging story about a young female athlete that incorporates terrific sports action - something that is sadly rare. Roberts has a real flair for sports writing and the many games and practices depicted in the book have a terrific you-are-there feel that is a real delight. This story also provides a wonderfully authentic look at the world of youth athletics encompassing the fierce competition, the often-intense parents, practices, pressures and sacrifices required to compete at the next level. There are many elements I appreciate so much in this book besides just the sports. The characters are richly developed, especially Nikki, who is struggling to balance school, family responsibilities and her practice schedule as well as new pressures on friendships and the family finances required for the new club traveling team. Nikki's family is a charming feature and I loved her research librarian mother who is baffled by her daughter's love of sports and her super high-energy little brother. Particularly well done is the picture of a gifted young athlete who has been the star, now moving to the next level and discovering that everyone there is as good or better. Nikki's self-doubts and struggles to adjust and adapt is wonderfully incorporated into this story. A terrific debut with some unusual features AND just a totally engaging story. I was truly invested in the story from the first page and had a hard time putting it down. I hope to see more from this author.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Lils

    I got this book on Friday and I finished it on Saturday so, yes it was an amazing book! I can really relate to Nikki and I was able to understand every word she said. Even though I don’t even play basketball, I could relate Nikki when she wasn’t always the best. I love the way Barbara incorporated some friendship drama into this novel. Dealing with friendship, sports and school is a struggle and this story showed just how to do it. I loved how the lesson of this book is having a good attitude I got this book on Friday and I finished it on Saturday so, yes it was an amazing book! I can really relate to Nikki and I was able to understand every word she said. Even though I don’t even play basketball, I could relate Nikki when she wasn’t always the best. I love the way Barbara incorporated some friendship drama into this novel. Dealing with friendship, sports and school is a struggle and this story showed just how to do it. I loved how the lesson of this book is having a good attitude and mentality. I would recommend this to anybody in an age rage of 11-100. Trust me you’ll LOVE it!!!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Book Hunter

    Nikki is a thirteen year old girl who is working through who she is and finds herself in a higher level competition in basketball. On top of basketball she struggles to balance school, friends and family. I’m not a sports fan, and I have never played basketball but this book hooked me up from the get-go. There are all kinds of characters in this story, I liked each girl on the team, each family.. It’s well written, with lots of action, realistic problems and totally appropriate for all Nikki is a thirteen year old girl who is working through who she is and finds herself in a higher level competition in basketball. On top of basketball she struggles to balance school, friends and family. I’m not a sports fan, and I have never played basketball but this book hooked me up from the get-go. There are all kinds of characters in this story, I liked each girl on the team, each family.. It’s well written, with lots of action, realistic problems and totally appropriate for all audiences. I highly recommend it.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dan

    Nikki has always been one of the best basketball players in her local county league. When her friend Adria and her make an elite travel team, Nikki starts to question her place on team and her relationship with Adria. Nikki on the Line was an excellent debut middle grade sports novel with plenty of layers that I think lots of kids will enjoy.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Frances Sayer

    Don't like basketball, loved this book.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Dobrez

    Updated. Stars are rounded up to reward a female basketball player novel with great sports action. They are so few and far between compared with male player sports fiction. The descriptions of basketball practice drills, plays, and games took me right back to my youth learning the game with all the drama of team play (not all of the drama happening on the court). Players today face a lot more competition and pressure (and expenses) in order to play on club and travel leagues to get the Updated. Stars are rounded up to reward a female basketball player novel with great sports action. They are so few and far between compared with male player sports fiction. The descriptions of basketball practice drills, plays, and games took me right back to my youth learning the game with all the drama of team play (not all of the drama happening on the court). Players today face a lot more competition and pressure (and expenses) in order to play on club and travel leagues to get the experience necessary to make a high school team and Roberts incorporates that as well. This is a touching portrayal of a middle school girl who watches her comfortable world shift in several different ways as she struggles to understand what her coach is trying to tell her when he quotes legendary coach John Wooden, "Don't let what you can't do stop you from doing what you can." There's more than basketball here, too. Our blog post with Lynn's opinion, too, is now available at our new home for Bookends Blog.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    NIKKI ON THE LINE by Barbara Roberts will appeal to middle grade girls and especially to girls who loves sports and particularly to girls who love basketball. It is clear that Barbara Roberts understands middle grade girls basketball. Nikki is an appealing character that we can root for. Nikki faces so many of the problems that middle graders face: wanting to do the same activities as their friends but needing to balance that with chores, obligations to family, and money problems at home. Nikki NIKKI ON THE LINE by Barbara Roberts will appeal to middle grade girls and especially to girls who loves sports and particularly to girls who love basketball. It is clear that Barbara Roberts understands middle grade girls basketball. Nikki is an appealing character that we can root for. Nikki faces so many of the problems that middle graders face: wanting to do the same activities as their friends but needing to balance that with chores, obligations to family, and money problems at home. Nikki triumphs through persistence, hard work, and coming up with creative solutions. Many middle grade girls will be able to relate to Nikki. I received this book through Goodreads. My opinions are my own.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Aimee Lucido

    Nikki on the Line is a blast! I am not a sports person, and I devoured this book! I love how the author's own basketball expertise comes through in every word, and I love how we are along with Nikki for the whole ride. I found myself tearing up when Nikki made the team, and I love how intensely I could feel her want. What an incredible book! I can't wait for kids to read it!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    A fantastic middle grade book about a female athlete? Sign me up! Not all about love? Even better! Totally appropriate for all audiences? Awesome. I seriously loved this book and all the lessons it had to share.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Joshua

    I loved it! I'm always looking for MG sports books for girls, and this is going to be a favorite among my students.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Stefanie

    So a couple of months back, one of my students asked for a pass to go to the school library to exchange her book. I gave her the pass and also asked her if she would mind taking the book I had borrowed from the school library back and turn it in for me. I think she was excited to do so. :) Anyway, so I guess she decided that since she was exchanging her book for a new one, she needed to do the same with mine and this is the one she chose for me. It took me awhile, but how could I not read it? So a couple of months back, one of my students asked for a pass to go to the school library to exchange her book. I gave her the pass and also asked her if she would mind taking the book I had borrowed from the school library back and turn it in for me. I think she was excited to do so. :) Anyway, so I guess she decided that since she was exchanging her book for a new one, she needed to do the same with mine and this is the one she chose for me. It took me awhile, but how could I not read it? This was a fun story. Nikki, an eighth grader, has always played county league basketball and been the best point guard. She wants more than anything to play on the local club team so she can hone her skills and make the varsity team in high school. To her delight, she makes the team. However, she has to learn to love playing again when she comes up against a number of obstacles like learning a new position, playing against bigger and better girls than she has in the past, and learning to accept her best friend on the team making friends with some of her other teammates. This was an enjoyable middle grade book by a debut author who obviously has a basketball background. I loved seeing a female main character that loved basketball as much as Nikki. I love that there are middle grade books today that have female main characters that enjoy sports, math/science, and adventure as much as their male counterparts. I also love the theme of friendship that you see in many middle grade books and this one was no exception. 2020 Popsugar Challenge - A book you meant to read in 2019

  16. 5 out of 5

    Dotty

    Loved all the basketball action as well as the relationships

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kaci

    I loved this middle grade book. Of all the basketball fiction I’ve read, this is the most basketball-y. Constant descriptions of drills, form, rules, game scenarios, etc. I loved it.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Judith

    4th grade and up. If someone who doesn't enjoy basketball enjoyed this book, then you know it is good!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Freya Hooper

    Title: Nikki on the Line Author: Barbara Carroll Roberts Target: Grades 5-8 Series: No What this book is about: Nikki is moving from her rec league basketball team to an elite club team, and the transition is not easy. She used to be the best, but now she is struggling to find her footing. The financial cost of being on the team also means that she must babysit her little brother after school instead of taking conditioning classes with some of the other girls. As she struggles with school work, Title: Nikki on the Line Author: Barbara Carroll Roberts Target: Grades 5-8 Series: No What this book is about: Nikki is moving from her rec league basketball team to an elite club team, and the transition is not easy. She used to be the best, but now she is struggling to find her footing. The financial cost of being on the team also means that she must babysit her little brother after school instead of taking conditioning classes with some of the other girls. As she struggles with school work, basketball and friendships, was this travel team really be worth it? Why I love this book: I love to see the rise of sports books with girls at the helm. The commitment required of these girls is something we frequently debate in our house as my own daughter juggles homework, friends, and soccer. I absolutely feel readers will appreciate Nikki’s struggles and feel seen. I liked that while the book shared many of the challenges that Nikki faced, it also didn’t shy away from the fundamentals of basketball. There were certainly some sections of the book where my lack of basketball knowledge was evident. I couldn’t necessarily understand all the issues as they related to point guards vs. shooting guard, but I did get that changing positions to one that is unfamiliar is not easy. Nikki is a very likable and relatable character. She is working through who she is, enjoying a small crush, and dealing with a best friend who may be finding new friends. Sound like an 8th grader you know? Who this book is for: Great for girls who are interested in sports or simply kids who like realistic fiction. Good selection for kids ready to move up from the Hoops series. Reminded me a little of Checked for the cost and commitment of a sport in middle school. Final thoughts: Nikki On the Pitch would be a great sequel. Ok, I’m a little soccer biased.

  20. 5 out of 5

    A.J.

    The mark of a great sports story is its ability to engage readers with themes that reach beyond standard 'make it or break it' competition scenes. I don't know a thing about basketball, nor am I particularly interested in it, as far as sports go. This book was easy and enjoyable to read precisely because sport was used as an allegory for something more universal. Thirteen-year-old Nikki is used to being the big fish in a little pond when it comes to basketball. She's always been one of the best The mark of a great sports story is its ability to engage readers with themes that reach beyond standard 'make it or break it' competition scenes. I don't know a thing about basketball, nor am I particularly interested in it, as far as sports go. This book was easy and enjoyable to read precisely because sport was used as an allegory for something more universal. Thirteen-year-old Nikki is used to being the big fish in a little pond when it comes to basketball. She's always been one of the best in her county league. Now she's made a new, more competitive team, where girls are taller, faster, more aggressive. Some of their families have more money to support them, too. Nikki isn't tall for a basketball player. Her single parent family also doesn't have a lot of money. To be part of the Action team, she needs to make sacrifices that her other teammates don't. Her faith in her own abilities also wavers after she overhears the super-competitive parent of one of her teammates talk down about her. This story is so much more than about coming into your own in a competitive team sport, though. It's about navigating financial constraints, an increasing academic workload, and exploring what it's like to be different because your second parent is an anonymous sperm donor. It's about understanding your limitations and assessing when and how they can be overcome. Nikki's story should appeal to anyone who's ever had doubts--about sports, their family make-up, or how to juggle competing responsibilities. It's a quick, enjoyable read infused with humor and insight in all the right places.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Susan Dunn

    13-year-old Nikki lives for basketball. She has played on a team since she was in second grade, and despite her lack of height has always been one of the better players,. But this year she's moving up to the big leagues and trying out for a competitive eighth grade club team. Nikki has always been confident in her abilities, but the girls on this team are GOOD. She does make the final cut, but what she didn't realize is how much harder playing at this level would be. They practice twice a week, 13-year-old Nikki lives for basketball. She has played on a team since she was in second grade, and despite her lack of height has always been one of the better players,. But this year she's moving up to the big leagues and trying out for a competitive eighth grade club team. Nikki has always been confident in her abilities, but the girls on this team are GOOD. She does make the final cut, but what she didn't realize is how much harder playing at this level would be. They practice twice a week, and are away at tournaments most weekends. All of that travel costs a lot of money - money that Nikki's single mom doesn't have. The only way they can afford it is for Nikki to start watching her younger brother every day after school so he doesn't have to go to after school care. But between long, hard practices, babysitting, and a lot of homework, Nikki struggles to fit it all in. Even worse, her coach moves her to a different position, and Nikki suddenly begins to question her abilities on the court and her place on the team. Basketball has always been her first love - what happens when that suddenly is no longer true? This relatable, fast moving story will score points with sports fans in grades 5 and up.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Hutchison

    This book is a genuine look into girls sports today. The characters are mostly middle schoolers and their families. The girls are playing on a competitive team and trying to get ready for high school teams. The families must sacrifice time and money for the competitive team. But the heart of the story is Nikki and her family. Nikki is small and a firecracker of a shot. The basketball scenes are so tense and action packed I almost had to put the book down and catch my breath. On top of basketball This book is a genuine look into girls sports today. The characters are mostly middle schoolers and their families. The girls are playing on a competitive team and trying to get ready for high school teams. The families must sacrifice time and money for the competitive team. But the heart of the story is Nikki and her family. Nikki is small and a firecracker of a shot. The basketball scenes are so tense and action packed I almost had to put the book down and catch my breath. On top of basketball Nikki is going through school stuff and friend stuff and boy stuff. But one thing she is trying to figure out is a secret her Mom has kept her whole life. Great twist! I love the families in this book! I also love the basketball! Every family is different and each one has their own quirks. The girls on the team are really like girls I have known... all different kinds. And that little brother!!!! He is more of a little bother than brother.. All together a great read.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Michele Knott

    Loved this middle school story. Nikki is trying to figure out so much which is typical for a thirteen year old. More responsibility and entering the world of a higher level competition in sports. Add in family - in this case Nikki has added responsibilities of watching a younger brother after school and figuring out who she is since she doesn’t have much info on her father because he was a sperm donor - and school and Nikki finds herself in over her head. Kids are going to relate to this story!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    AH-MAZ-ING. If you have girls they should read this book NOW! This book takes a typical middle school aged girl who's trying to find out who she is - as most girls her age are & she is discovering that the one place she had life figured out (the basketball court) is changing too. She has to learn to navigate friendships, family, homework & life in general, but she comes out stronger for it (I don't really think that's a spoiler)..... I loved this book.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    I loved this middle grade book! Not only is it a sports book with a female lead which seems like a rarity, it has positive themes around family, hard work, friendship, and responsibility. This is so much more than a basketball story and I can't wait to share it with students and colleagues!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    I have never played basketball. I’m not a sports fan. I love real stories and this was a great story! It is well written, with lots of action, realistic problems and feelings and resilience. I highly recommend it!

  27. 5 out of 5

    Camilla

    I really enjoyed this one.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jody

    I loved this debut about competitive basketball, friendship, and perseverance. Nikki is a winner!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gracie

    This is a feeling less book

  30. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Absolutely fantastic!

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