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In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  525 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
They Were a Talented Team with a Near-Perfect Record. But for Five Straight Years, When it Came to The Crunch of the Playoffs, the Amherst Lady Hurricanes-A "Finesse" High-School Girls' Basketball Team of Nice Girls from A Nice Town-Somehow Lacked the Scrappy, Hard-Driving Desire to Go all the Way. Now, Led by the Strong Back-Court of All-American Jamila Wideman and Three- ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published January 1st 1996 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1995)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 928)
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Jul 13, 2012 Kate rated it liked it
Three stars if you went to UMass in the early 1990s, or have another connection to the Amherst area at that time. Three and a half stars if you attended a small seminar class with Blais while she was writing this book. If none of those apply to you, you'd probably give it two stars.

Blais's class, we were reading current contemporary non-fiction books, including Friday Night Lights. At the end of the semester she held a panel with several of the authors we read, including Buzz Bissinger. I feel t
Jun 28, 2015 Mirjam rated it it was amazing
Was inspired to re-read this one recently, almost 20 years after the first time I read it, and wow, will time make you experience a book differently. But you already knew that, I hope.

I like "In These Girls" just as much, but for a whole new set of reasons, but mainly: the journalism. The reporting and the writing, the beautiful depiction of truth as related, remarkably, to both a particular community and to a national culture.

Inspired anew, because it was such a thorough and impressive reminde
Cailla Swanson
Apr 28, 2016 Cailla Swanson rated it it was ok
The book In These Girls Hope Is A Muscle is an empowering novel about girls basketball making their mark in American sports history. As the book opens, you learn about Amherst, Massachusetts and the history of the Amherst High School Lady Hurricanes. As you read you begin to notice how hard these ladies work day in and day out. Their lives are completely dedicated to the game of basketball, especially seniors Jen and Jamila who are also the team's captains. As the season begins the girls really ...more
Aug 17, 2015 Sarah rated it really liked it
Another one of my road-trip reads, this book was an incredibly fun read. Having gone to college in the Five College area and lived in South Hadley for another four years, I loved hearing the descriptions of areas that I know appropriate and spot on! It took a bit to get used to cheering for Amherst as the protagonist, since they have always been opponents in my experience, but beyond that, this book was a very insightful look at high school sports, particularly given the ways in ...more
Jun 24, 2014 Heila rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-s, journalism
From Publishers Weekly
When Pulitzer Prize-winner Blais pokes gentle fun at Amherst, Mass., where an infuriated teen-aged athlete in the heat of the fray may yell, "You ignore your inner child!" you suspect this will be a special book. And it is, as the reader follows the Amherst High girls basketball team-the Lady Hurricanes-in the 1992-93 season, from game one on December 15 to the final game on March 16, when they all but obliterated Haverhill, 74-36, to win the state championship. While this
Staci Browning
Apr 04, 2014 Staci Browning rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-13-25
This was a book that was empowering and motivating. As a young high school team works their way up to the state championships for the gold. They follow the team for an entire year, experiencing ups and downs with the entire team. Allowing readers to get to know the Amherst, Hurricanes.

The book is powerful but it is hard to understand the true purpose as it is torn between explaining the girl's lives-personally, and the team and their successes. While the book still has a lot of power to it, it
Justin Langlois
Sep 11, 2014 Justin Langlois rated it did not like it
Eh. I didn't particularly care for this book. It was the assigned summer reading for our school so I was obligated to finish it. The story itself is compelling (high school girls basketball team achieves glory on the court) and the message is also good (women's high school sports is important and, if played at a high level, extremely entertaining and fun to watch) but the way the story was written/told did not in any way grab me. I often felt like the author was just filling space talking about ...more
Austin Francis
Apr 08, 2014 Austin Francis rated it liked it
Shelves: books-13-25
The book is about a girls high school basketball team in Massachusetts that does great in the regular season but chokes in the finals. This year though, they have a miraculous season. It is non-fiction and the book describes each of the players on the team and how they prove sports are for women too.
The book goes on a lot of tangents and it is hard to keep all the girls straight. I often found myself asking, "Who is this again?" The book will go on and on about the culture of Amherst, MA and tha
Abby Bruins
Jun 09, 2011 Abby Bruins rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading Madeleine Blais's In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle. The Amherst High Lady Hurricanes basketball team played hard every season, but consistently fell short of the championship trophy. Blais really projects the attitudes of each of players on the team. Even though the girls struggle to get along off the court, they are able to connect well while playing because of their love for the sport, the game, and for the dream of being a championship team. The Lady Hurricanes put their min ...more
Nov 07, 2010 Sydney rated it it was amazing
In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle by Madeleine Blais chronicles the season of the Amherst High School girls basketball team on their journey to claim a state championship. The book begins in the summer as the girls are all doing their part to prepare for the season. The beginning is mostly focused on the town and its background along with how each girl on the team fits into the town atmosphere. As the book continues it illustrates the relationships and interactions of each girl with the rest of t ...more
May 30, 2016 Cindy rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This book is about the Amherst Lady Hurricanes, a high school basketball team from Amherst, Massachusetts and the lives of the young women that make up the team. Blais follows the team during the 1992-93 season, from game one through the state championship against Haverhill. Blais is from Amherst and one of the players was her babysitter. The books journalistic tone provides wonderful details about what drives each of the girls to play basketball and what their lives are like aside from the spor ...more
Dec 05, 2007 Grace rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: women's sports fans
Shelves: 2007
After reading Larry Colton's Counting Coup a couple of months ago, I became a little bit obsessed with women's and girl's basketball. In keeping with that obsession, this book, In These Girls, Hope is a Muscle was repeatedly recommended to me. So, this past week, I read it.

It certainly begs comparison with Colton's book. Both books are about high school girl's basketball teams with big dreams in the early 1990s. But really, the similarities end there. To begin with, Colton's book is about poor g
Feb 09, 2012 Dave rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Anyone who truly loves sports. Parents of girls who eschew dolls for bats and sticks.
Recommended to Dave by: Some long-forgotten classmate
This book has been on my radar since my freshman year of college, when someone showed me a New York Times magazine article of the same name. But what the book might have meant to my 19-year-old self might as well be 180 degrees from what it means to me now, and I'm damned glad I waited to read it.

Far more than just another season-in-the-life memoir, it could do for girls high school sports what "Friday Night Lights" did for boys sports. In a more positive vein, "Muscle" shines a light on what i
Theresa Malloy
Mar 10, 2016 Theresa Malloy rated it really liked it
This was a recommended to me by a literary journalism professor. It chronicles a girls high school basketball team as it makes it way to the championship. Interestingly, very little is written about the games. Supporting characters, history and the Amherst town are just as much alive in the story as the team. Great read, especially for someone who covers high school sports.
Feb 04, 2011 Renee rated it liked it
In Madeleine Blais novel titled In these girls, hope is a muscle there was a lot of discussion on the role of sports in female figures verses the male figures lives back in the days. However the book came down to a high school girls team that was very good but was just lacking the desire to take it to the next level. I enjoyed this text because it allowed me to looks at sports on both sides of the gender lines and take a closer look at it from the outside. This reading had multiple lessons throu ...more
Ashley Mitchell
Dec 06, 2011 Ashley Mitchell rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ravi Narayanan
Mar 26, 2014 Ravi Narayanan rated it liked it
Light story line with nice narrations of Amherst and surroundings - and the people around.
The power of the title is missing in the "telling"
Feb 25, 2009 Natalie rated it liked it
I really liked this book, but it stopped short of being amazing for me. It's a great story and begins to touch on young women's experience of the ups, downs and all encompasing passion for the sport; but for me, it stopped short of being a truly moving portrait of this team. I would have loved to know more about the characters, and to get really involved in the Hurricaines season.

But perhaps, as someone who's lived on the inside of this world, I'm Biased to the emotional level of impact I'm expe
Jul 16, 2008 Sarah rated it liked it
Recommends it for: athletes, anyone who likes inspiring real-life stories
I agree with most other reviewers on here that these girls are inspiring and the author did a wonderful job of capturing their excitement on the court and interweaving it with the typical woes of teenage life. However, I knock my review down a few stars because of the author's problem with "info dumping" -- she did some amazing reporting to get all the details that brought these girls to life, yet she didn't sift out the details that were unimportant, leaving the reader with sections of info tha ...more
Sarah Ruiz
Nov 14, 2011 Sarah Ruiz rated it liked it
This book is mainly about a girls basketball team that wasn't very successful at first and they were having some issues on how they should work as a team.They weren't winning many games and they really felt defeated so they had to come up with a strategy in order to start winning some games.Because a lot of people were starting to say bad things about them but they had a coach that was very supportive,
I am not done reading this book yet but i really like it though it really relates to what i l
Jul 28, 2014 Carolyn rated it really liked it
I remember liking this a lot.
Jun 11, 2009 Fall rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed reading this book because it was about basketball. Also it was about a girls basketball team who just never made it to the finals but deserved to win it every year. The year that they finally had the heart and soul to win is when they took the championships. Two of the top players had full scholarships to some of the best colleges to play basketball. I think in reading this book i learned that striving for your dreams and goals will always get you far.
Nov 09, 2009 Kristin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: favorites
I read this book when it came out and have read it every few years since. It is a great inspirational story and although it is over a decade old, I recommend to any girl that plays team sports. I would love to know how these girls are doing now. When you complete this book, you feel like you truly know the girls and are cheering for them during the entire book and have almost established a friendship with them.
Cyndi Dwyer
Apr 05, 2008 Cyndi Dwyer rated it it was amazing
Finally, after five straight years of disappointments, the Amherst Lady Hurricanes found they just might have what it took to go all the way. This is a fierce, funny, and intimate look into their minds and hearts during one very special season. I also love the fact that parts of the book were taken from the girls' personal journals. This is a good piece of sports writing about girls.
Michael Head
Jan 14, 2008 Michael Head rated it really liked it
A non-fiction account following 2 consecutive seasons of a girls high school basketball team in Amherst, MA. It details the highs and lows a team of athletes with lofty goals experience during their season.
As a coach myself, I found this book to be very rewarding and could be a wonderful "assignment" for any high school athlete, in particular, a girls basketball player.
Jeremy Preacher
Oct 23, 2010 Jeremy Preacher rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography, sports
I read this as a high schooler and adored it. I didn't grow up in precisely this environment, but it was damned close, and some of the descriptions of the girls could just as well have been about me and my friends. Particularly some of the hero-worshipping diary entries by younger girls about the older ones - that was a huge part of my closeted baby-dyke experience.
Blake Gaudet
May 22, 2012 Blake Gaudet rated it liked it
So, there was some good stuff in here. I felt attached to the girls and wanted them to succeed. That said, I was reading this from a coach's perspective and looking for some insight, and all I got was, "If you want to win State Championships, make sure you have a couple of All-Americans on your team." So yeah....not that enlightening.
May 08, 2008 Jane rated it it was amazing
I hate the word inspiring, but these girls do inspire me to better things. Essentially about basketball I learned much more about teammwork off the court than on it. I highly recommend this for anyone who has ever played a sport, worked in a small group or interacted with high school girls. You'll come away with a new perspective.
Jun 30, 2008 Art rated it really liked it
Highly recommended for anyone who coaches girls' basketball. It's the true story of a high school team in western Massachusetts striving to win a state championship. (Full disclosure: I attended the same college as the team's coach and my sister used to own the pizza place mentioned in the book.)
Jan 28, 2012 Molly rated it liked it
Honestly, I didn't like the way this book was written. There was too much exposition and rising action leading up to a very short climax that didn't give a very big impact. It was a good story but you would really have to know and like basektball to understand.
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