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Publisher's Summary

"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 blonde "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. 

©2020 Quan Barry (P)2020 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

“Touching, hilarious, and deeply satisfying... Readers will cheer [the team] on because what they're really doing is learning to be fully and authentically themselves.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review) 

"Think about your favorite ’80s teen movies, and then think of all the ills they perpetuated - the casual racism and the slut-shaming, not to mention the homophobic stereotypes. We Ride Upon Sticks is a novel that captures the giddy fun of your favorites - the wild parties and the teased bangs, the outsiders with the witty one-liners and the thrill of winning the big game - but it also breaks apart the myths of ’80s teen tropes by putting the story in context. As narrated by the 11 members of the Danvers Falcons women’s varsity field hockey team in 1989 and in the more enlightened present day, the novel follows the team’s meteoric rise from mediocrity to the state championship after signing their names in a powerful, potentially witchy notebook with Emilio Estevez’s face on the cover.” (Vulture)

“A playful, nostalgic run through 1980s suburbia... 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.” (Publishers Weekly)

What listeners say about We Ride Upon Sticks

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  • Overall
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    5 out of 5 stars

Field hockey+witchcraft = surprisingly enthralling

You know when you hear about a really weird food pairing and you think "what the holy aioli is this person's damage?" but you try it anyway (because you're nice and afraid of confrontation) and it's actually the best thing ever and all you ever want to eat or talk about ever again when you realize you've become the weirdo that you judged so harshly so now feel obligated to take a big bite of humble pie? That is the best way I can describe it. It's pineapple and olives on pizza.

10 people found this helpful

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Tries to Do Too Much

This books tries to do too way and just never got anywhere for me. The plot was so slow. The narrator also mispronounces several MA towns and places, which I found to be very annoying.

5 people found this helpful

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Couldn’t finish

I just could not get myself to finish this book. I tried for several (quite long) chapters but I found myself uninterested and just not wanting to pick it back up. I asked a couple friends if I should push through for a better ending and they advised it never got any better.

5 people found this helpful

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Coming of age with a roar

I thought this was a YA novel at first, and perhaps it could be. Mostly it's just a fun romp through female coming of age in the late '80's, and these girls are roaring with the energy that can only be conjured by a group of girls focused on a purpose. It's fun seeing young women discovering and owning their power. Great if you like field hockey. And, oh yeah, witchcraft.

2 people found this helpful

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The Narrator is Awful!

I really wanted to like this book; however, the story is slow and, at times, choppy on what is actually happening. Add to that the horrible reading ability of the narrator and it just about became unbearable. I stuck with it because I kept waiting for it to get better or for there to be a reason for the poor narration - but alas - that is not the case.

1 person found this helpful

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  • al
  • 01-06-21

Might be good, but I had to stop listening

This is my first time with audible and fiction, so it might just be me. I couldn't finish listening. I might have liked it if I read it, so I am going to try that instead. There is something SO cringeworthy about hearing a white woman do voices for people of color and different sexual orientations. Every time she read for a character, I cringed. She is probably a good narrator, but I just couldn't finish it. I think I'll stick to non-fiction.

1 person found this helpful

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Fantastic Read!

Such a great read - nostalgic and hilarious, this book will absolutely immerse you in 1989, sisterhood, friendship, sex and love.

1 person found this helpful

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Fine story, not my cup of tea

DNF @ 51%

I went into this book with the wrong expectations. I was hoping for a dark and funny satire with either an imaginative fantasy or twisty is-it-or-isn’t-it plot. Instead this book cares a lot about field hockey, leans heavily on 80’s nostalgia and snark, and the plot is a light farce about teamwork and confidence. I wasn’t able to get deep enough into any character’s life to care about them, because as soon as things got close, the thread jumped to another character.

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So much fun!

I cannot say enough good things about this book. As a Gen Xer, I love the nostalgia. As a female hockey fan, I love the camaraderie between the teammates, and the narrative being the viewpoint of the whole team. Brilliant! As a spiritual earthy human fascinated by the powers of manifestation and interconnectivity, I love the witchiness.
The story is captivating! I especially appreciate how the story addresses a broad timeline (witch trials, the 80s, and today) as it allowed me to consider how humanity has evolved and how some things have yet to change.
The reader does an excellent job representing each character.
Bravo!

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Loved It

I love books that fully transport you to a time and place, and this did exactly that. The narrator was superb, and really added to the story for me. I loved the multiple points of view, the sisterhood, the examination of relationships through a teen’s eyes. I think “quirky” is a good word for this book. I’ve never read anything like it, and I truly enjoyed every minute of it. I know I’ll be coming back to listen again.