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We Ride Upon Sticks

3.85  ·  Rating details ·  7,231 ratings  ·  1,591 reviews
Set in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts (which in 1692 was Salem Village, site of the origins of the Salem Witch Trials), the story follows the Danvers High field hockey team as they discover that the dark impulses of their Salem forebears may be the key to a winning season.

The 1989 Danvers Falcons are on an unaccountable winning streak. Quan Barry weaves togethe
Hardcover, 367 pages
Published March 3rd 2020 by Pantheon Books
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Average rating 3.85  · 
Rating details
 ·  7,231 ratings  ·  1,591 reviews

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Jun 19, 2020 rated it really liked it
Very dense prose. So so many characters. Field hockey! New England! Clever plot! A fine read!
chan ☆
Jan 20, 2021 added it
Shelves: 2021, dnf
dnf @ 44%

this isn’t bad by any means, just not really something i’m super into. being more selective with what ya read also means putting down things that aren’t really your cup of tea (which is pretty hard for me but i’m working on it).
Jessica Woodbury
4.5 stars. What a goddamned delight of a book. I laughed at something nearly every paragraph. I got to know these characters deeply. This book understands the dark magic of teenage girls and opens it wide open, showing us just how powerful they are and I loved every minute of it.

The Danvers High School varsity Field Hockey team has 11 members and at first they are all a blur to you. But after a while you will know them all intimately, you will know Boy Cory's last name and Girl Cory's sketchy st
Mar 01, 2021 rated it really liked it
We Ride Upon Sticks by Quan Barry is a 2020 Pantheon Books publication.

Field, Field, Field- Hockey, Hockey, Hockey

Danvers, Massachusetts has a dark history dating back to the 1692 witch trials. Centuries later, in 1989, a high school field hockey team on a losing streak, channels the elements of witchcraft to turn things around for them. To accomplish this, they sign their names in a notebook featuring the likeness of Emilio Estevez on the cover, and tying strips of old sweat socks around thei
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: from-library, 2020
Every three hundred years or so, our kind gets loosed upon an unsuspecting world. And this time around, the history books would know us as the 1989 Danvers High School Women’s Varsity Field Hockey team. Be. Aggressive. B-E aggressive.

The 1989 Danvers High School Women’s Varsity Field Hockey team is tired of losing. Inspired by their town’s most famous ancestors—the young “affected” women of 1692, when the town was known as Salem Village—the Lady Falcons try to turn their fortunes around through
Lily Herman
Apr 18, 2020 rated it liked it
Brb, still trying to rewire my mind after what I just read.

Quan Barry's We Ride Upon Sticks was one of the most original books I've read in a long time. The concept was fresh, and there was a lot of potential in the characters, storylines, and dialogue. Love me a book about young women who are a tad witchy and enjoy scaring those around them.

Where things got a little hinky was in the execution. Large portions of this book were strangely dense and exposition-filled to the point where I started sk
Renee // Feminist Book Club Box and Podcast
If Now and Then, Pretty in Pink, and Practical Magic all had a baby who grew up to play field hockey, it would be this book. Perfection. Chef’s kiss.
Sara (sarawithoutanH)
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2021
FINALLY a weird book I can get behind!!!! I'm not even sure how to describe this book. It is so campy and fun. I loved the characters and the writing style. There was a lot of good commentary on things like race and sexism. I think If I had to describe its vibe I would say Netflix's GLOW (for the 80s nostalgia and humor) meets Scott Pilgrim vs. the World (for the camp and out there scenarios). I'd love to see an adaptation of this - I can just imagine the creativity they could have with the film ...more
Apr 06, 2020 added it
Shelves: read-in-2020
A total and utter delight of a book that reminded me a lot of NOW AND THEN. The story follows a team of field hockey players in Danvers, Massachusetts, who believe they're imbued with the power of witchcraft as bestowed upon them by Emilio Estevez. Each of the main characters tells one of the chapters from a third person POV, and it all rounds back to the team revisiting one another on their hallowed ground 30 years later.

Inclusive, soaked in late-80s pop culture references, and downright hilar
80s teen hockey-playing witches!

By this point, 1980s nostalgia and the supernatural is a classic combo. Stranger Things, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, to name two recent examples, and now We Ride Upon Sticks proving that there’s plenty of mileage in the idea yet. This novel is funny, warm-hearted, and entertaining. It’s peppered with pop culture references but doesn’t descend into ridiculousness à la Ready Player One.

In the beginning I found the Greek chorus-style of narration a bit of a sticking
Mar 17, 2020 rated it it was ok
I should have bailed! I kept thinking it had to get better, based on the multitude of glowing reviews. No such luck. I'm only a few years older than the girls (and guy) on the team, so the '80s references weren't lost on me. There are a few snort-worthy funny moments in the book. Mostly, it was just a supreme drag. There isn't enough character or plot development to be satisfying. The end was a colossal rush to find out "where they are now." ...more
Kyra Leseberg (Roots & Reads)
Jan 08, 2021 rated it really liked it
3.5 stars

The 1989 Danvers Falcons field hockey team is on a winning streak thanks to the dark powers of Emilio Estevez and some super scrunched up bleach blond bangs!

The frustrated Lady Falcons were 2-8 last year and they want to end high school with a trip to State. One by one, the eleven members sign a pledge in an Emilio Estevez notebook to make it happen. When they begin to crush the competition, the Falcons find themselves in some dark situations to “re-charge” the power of Emilio and keep
The Artisan Geek
Feb 01, 2020 marked it as to-read

Gals signing their name in to the Devil's Book sounds really thrilling! I could do for a fun and dark book!!

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Dec 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book is fucking flawless
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Easily one of the best books I’ve read thus far this year.

Quan Barry writes beautifully, hilariously, and wisely about the 1989 Danvers High field hockey team as they dabble in witchcraft on their way to competing for the Massachusetts state title (and to growing up).

Barry is one of many writers who perfectly captures the psyche of teenage girls, but she’s the first I’ve seen create such a wonderful, accurate portrayal of what it’s like to compete on a girls high school sports team.

I didn’t p
Jan 06, 2021 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2021
Well that was just a fantastic romp. We Ride Upon Sticks has everything, field hockey, 1980s pop culture, teenage angst, a load of references to the Salem Witch Trials. and prayers to Emilio Estevez (devil or god? Who can say?) The real magic here is the skill with which Barry balances comedy and thoughtful examination of adolescence, and small town America in the 1980s. I thought this was a really excellent read on a range of levels, which made me think and laugh. Let’s go 2021- more reads like ...more
Althea | themoonwholistens ☾
— overall thoughts: DNF @40% —

This isn’t the book’s fault, I just think I’ve reached my tolerance for contemporaries for the next few weeks… or months, who knows. With that said, this book actually had supernatural elements to it, inspired by the Salem witch trials. I feel like if you enjoy those speculative fiction kind of stories, you'll probably enjoy this. Especially if you enjoy books that are centered around camaraderie and discussions on social constructs. And perhaps if you just like rea
Jenny (Reading Envy)
"It was high school. A sea of adolescence streamed by, each of us in our own way trying to both fit in and stand what if there was an open flame burning in her locker? It was nothing compares with the dark storms secretly and openly raging inside each and every one of us."

I was only in elementary school in the 1980s so I'm too young for actual nostalgia and too old for retro nostalgia. If you like girl power and 80s nostalgia, this is the book for you. The novel is about the 1989 Danver
Mar 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel! Yes, the characters are in the Class of '90 but as a member of the Class of '88 it all rang true. The 1980s were a difficult time if you were a person of color, a woman, LGBT, or simply "different". We've come quite a ways but still have a long way to go. Highly recommended. ...more
Shelley Gibbs
Mar 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
Like if The Breakfast Club and the Craft and Heathers had a charming book baby.
Aug 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
I just don't get some of the adjectives used to describe this book: haunting, fascinating, and deeply affecting. Really? I'm missing something because I found it overly wordy and longer than it needed to be. I got lost due to the plethora of details and sidetracks.

The premise of a 1980's high school girls field hockey team who tap into their 'dark powers' is unique and fun. The beginning is strong and grabbed me right away. But, then it went downhill. There's an abundance of references to 1980's
Jenny Lawson
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Such a great book! I miss the characters as soon as it was done.
Bill Kupersmith
Most literature of sport I’ve read features bat and ball games - either cricket or baseball. Except for Enid Blyton, Field Hockey (ie, real hockey, not ice hockey) has been an orphan. This year happily for me (as we endure the cancellation of both FIH Pro Hockey and the Olympics) has given me the pleasure to read two novels set at the opposite extremes of the sport, the Olympic Games in Sydney and a high school in Danvers, Massachusetts. They were Fiona Campbell’s No Number Nine and now Quan Bar ...more
Jan 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: tob21
This book is, in all the best ways, like a campier Megan Abbott novel. I loved the way Barry merged between third-person specific narration and first-person-plural, I loved the trials and tribulations of teenage girls in 1989 striking a deal with... the devil? to win States in field hockey. I loved the particulars, I loved the little destabilizing details that tease what'll happen in the future, I even loved the times where the book slowed down a bit. Very fun, very sweet, but with a killer shar ...more
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell
This sounds like one of those 90s sports movies, only with a dash of Satanism.

"Salem's hockey team lost every game they ever played. Just when they felt like they were all out of puck... they received a little help from an old friend..."

*record scratch*

"The DEVIL."
Brianna Carosi
Sep 11, 2019 rated it liked it
I got this as an advanced copy for nycc so I took some pretty intense notes. The things I really liked about the book was the witchcraft and reckless abandon. And how supportive of each other the team is. My favorite part was the last chapter. I think if it started out as a frame story I would have liked it better, i like the structure the last chapter gave it all.

This is a plot heavy book, everything that happens pushes the plot forward.

I found myself wanting to get the know the team more like
Jessica Haider
1989 in the Boston 'burb of Danvers, MA. We meet the 11 members of the Danvers High School field hockey team. This group of 10 girls and 1 boy form a strange bond centered around an Emilio Estevez notebook. They believe it works some charms to help them win games.

I really enjoyed this book. It was told from a 3rd person plural perspective of the team. I loved all of the 80's nostalgia, the local Boston North Shore references, including mentions of businesses that are long gone. The prose was a
Dec 16, 2020 added it
so much damn fun- witchcraft, hockey, female friendship, aka the perfect book
Stacey A.  Prose and Palate
Apr 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-reads
God I loved this book SO MUCH.
Melisa Thorne
May 02, 2020 rated it it was ok
Being the same age as the girls on the team and having lived a few miles from where this novel is set, I really wanted so badly for this book to be good. The 1989 Danvers HS girls Field Hockey team summoning witchcraft via an Emilio Esteves notebook to win games getting them to the state finals. Sounds like an entertaining premise. And under the deep nostalgia of local landmarks there is a story of female sexuality, friendship, racial identity, witchcraft and transformation.

Barry briefly capture
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Born in Saigon and raised on Boston’s north shore, Quan Barry is a professor of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and the author of four poetry books; her third book, Water Puppets, won the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and was a PEN/Open Book finalist. She has received NEA Fellowships in both fiction and poetry, and her work has appeared in such publications as Ms. and The New Yor ...more

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