Join Quan Barry for an evening at Boswell for We Ride Upon Sticks - Wednesday, March 18, 2020, 7 pm— Boswell Book Company
It’s 1989 and the Danvers Lady Falcons field hockey team is having another crappy year. So what harm could it do to take a cue from the witches of the city’s past and inscribe their names in a demonic book, especially if it helps you start winning games? With each game getting its own chapter, and each chapter bringing another player and her journey to adulthood to life, Barry’s second novel captures the excitement of a pennant race with the power of a feminist comic novel, notably a comic-steeped-in-the-eighties one.— Daniel Goldin
One of the things I loved about this book is it reads as if one of my best friends is talking. The casual, funny, chatty writing style, liberally dosed with sniping and sarcasm, fits the story perfectly. Set in Danvers, home of the original witch trials, a girl’s losing field hockey team signs itself over to the dark side in order to become a winning team. Hilarity ensues, with loads of action accompanied by occasional moments of soul-searching.— Kay Wosewick
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.
About the Author
Raised in the coastal town of Danvers, Massachusetts, QUAN BARRY is the author of the novel She Weeps Each Time You’re Born and of four books of poetry, including the collection Water Puppets, which won the AWP Donald Hall Prize for Poetry and was a PEN Open Book finalist. She lives in Wisconsin and teaches at the University of Wisconsin–Madison.
“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)
“A perfect blend of aesthetic and narrative pleasure . . . It’s very funny and a little angry and a lot of fun.”
“I’ve just finished Quan Barry’s forthcoming novel We Ride Upon Sticks, which is very sad news for me, because I don’t get to read it anymore. It’s been a long, long time since I snorted and snickered my way through a book. We Ride Upon Sticks is kind of like Stranger Things meets Bad News Bears meets Heathers . . . Basically, this book is a must read if you were ever a teenage girl, played a team sport, contemplated witchcraft, and/or were alive in the 80s. If like me, all of these things apply, watch out: this book is going to get you.” —Emily Temple, Lit Hub Senior Editor
“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