Project Description


Defending Irene

by Kristin Wolden Nitz

Irene loves soccer, and back in Missouri, she was one of the top players on her school’s girls’ team. But things are different in Merano, Italy.

Irene loves the feel of the ball exploding off her foot for a shot at the goal, but in the small, very traditional Alpine town in Italy where Irene and her family have come for a yearlong stay, there is no soccer team for girls.

When Irene decides to join the highly competitive boys’ team, she has little idea what she’s getting herself into. She must prove herself to the strict coach, and her teammates make it clear they don’t want her on the field. Especially Matteo, the team’s star player, who goes out of his way to make Irene unwelcome. But Irene does not give up easily.

With an often humorous look at a collision of cultures, Kristin Wolden Nitz has created a complex adolescent character whom readers will root for as she struggles to find her place in a new country and on the field.

Format: Hardcover
Price: $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-56145-309-2
Publication Date: 4/1/2004
Page Count: 224
Size: 6 ̎ x 9 ̎
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English
Format: eBook
ISBN: 978-1-56145-871-4
Age Range: 8 – 12
Language: English

Purchase this eBook through the following vendors:


AR Level: 3.9
F&P: GRL U, Gr 5, Genre RF
Themes: Determination, Gender, Italy, Perseverance, Soccer
BISAC 1: JUV032150 JUVENILE FICTION / Sports & Recreation / Soccer
BISAC 2: JUV030050 JUVENILE FICTION / People & Places / Europe
BISAC 3: JUV041000 JUVENILE FICTION /Girls & Women


“What keeps this tale from being just another soccer story with play-by-play action is the unique setting; the inventiveness of the chapter headings, which consist of Italian words, pronunciations, and definitions; and Irene’s determination.” ―School Library Journal

“Soccer fans, especially girls, will appreciate the well-drawn action sequences and Irene’s feisty spirit.” ―The Horn Book Guide


Young Adult Top Forty ―Pennsylvania School Librarians Association, 2005

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Meet the Author

Kristin Wolden Nitz is an avid sports fan, coach, and the author of many magazine articles on kids and sports. Nitz is the author of Suspect and Defending Irene, and has also written nonfiction books, including Play By Play Softball, Play By Play Track, and Play By Play Field. She lives in Michigan. You can visit her website here.