• We Ride Upon Sticks

  • A Novel
  • By: Quan Barry
  • Narrated by: Isabel Keating
  • Length: 14 hrs and 44 mins
  • 4.0 out of 5 stars (291 ratings)

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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)

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What listeners say about We Ride Upon Sticks

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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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.

15 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.

3 people 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.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Field! Field! Field!

HOCKEY! HOCKEY! HOCKEY!

This was a great story that was entertaining, had a message of team spirit, acceptance of differences, and the promise of what working together towards a goal can bring. It brought me back to my High School experience though I graduated in 84. And though I'm not from Massachusetts, I have family there and visit often, especially Salem/Danvers area. I loved everything about this story but I won't mention specifically because spoilers.

1 person 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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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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Big disappointment

I loved the setup for this book. The premise is the best part, however. This book is a grocery list of name-dropping 1980s music, television, clothing, food, cultural references… and nothing else. Each chapter ends with the unidentified narrator saying “and that’s when we,” so I thought at some point it would turn around, but at the half way mark I couldn’t stand it any more and threw in the towel. If you took out the name-dropping, which in no way improves the story, you’d be left with a one chapter book. I’ve read Stacy Schiff’s The Witches, so I kinda have an idea what Barry was trying to do, but it should be obvious even for people who have not read about the hysteria of the Salem Witch Trials.

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a great read!

I wondered if I'd be able to keep track of so many characters in an audiobook, but the book was so well written and the narrator did such a fantastic job of differentiating the characters, I had no problem! a friend recommended the book and I'm so glad she did!