"We Ride Upon Sticks . . . is for the kind of adults who watch Stranger Things and still have, somewhere, an athletic award inscribed on a paper plate." —NPR
**NPR “Best Books of 2020**
**TIME “Must Read Books of 2020”**
**Book Riot "Best Books of 2020**
**Literary Hub "Our 65 Favorite Books of 2020**
Acclaimed novelist Quan Barry delivers a tour de female force in this delightful novel. Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, where the accusations began that led to the 1692 witch trials, We Ride Upon Sticks follows the 1989 Danvers High School Falcons field hockey team, who will do anything to make it to the state finals—even if it means tapping into some devilishly dark powers. In chapters dense with 1980s iconography—from Heathers to "big hair"—Barry expertly weaves together the individual and collective progress of this enchanted team as they storm their way through an unforgettable season.
Helmed by good-girl captain Abby Putnam (a descendant of the infamous Salem accuser Ann Putnam) and her co-captain Jen Fiorenza (whose bleached blond “Claw” sees and knows all), the Falcons prove to be wily, original, and bold, flaunting society's stale notions of femininity in order to find their glorious true selves through the crucible of team sport and, more importantly, friendship.
Quan (She Weeps Every Time You're Born) takes a playful, nostalgic run through 1980s suburbia in this tale of witches and field hockey. In 1989, the Danvers Falcons, a high school field hockey team, are on a losing streak. After a depressing defeat, and thinking of the women who were tried for witchcraft three centuries earlier in nearby Salem, Mass., the members pledge allegiance to the devil in exchange for victory. They write their names in a notebook bearing the likeness of Emilio Estevez and wear a raggedy blue tube sock around their arms to mark their pact to an "alternative god" (as termed by team member Heather Houston), which also includes an agreement to follow "any urges you might get all the way to the end no matter what." As the season proceeds, with the team racking up wins at every game, the 10 girls and one boy begin to act on their desires, leading to several losses of virginity, a book burning, bouts of naked dancing in the woods, delusions of grandeur inspired by Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous, and Heather's crisis of conscience. Barry handles a large cast of characters nimbly and affectionately, allowing each to take a turn or two in the spotlight. Readers with fond, or even not so fond, memories of the 1980s are bound to be entertained.