Victory Lap by K.A. Mielke and Riley Alexis Wood

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#Contemporary, #YoungAdult,

Josh doesn’t know what he wants to do with his life, which is exactly why he’s taking a fifth year of high school while his girlfriend goes to university. (Well, that and the fact that his best friend basically forced him into it.) The only thing he’s sure about is the love of his life—who promptly breaks up with him.

High school senior, Kiki, quietly presented as her true gender over the summer to an audience of herself, her best friend, and her vaguely unsupportive parents. Now she has to deal with coming to her school as a new person, and when she’s partnered with Josh in Writer’s Craft, she finds herself developing maybe a little bit of an enormous crush.

Everyone just wants to make it out of high school in one piece, but Josh and Kiki’s last year might not be so simple.

Victory Lap is an own voices novel about taking the time to find yourself, even when the rest of the world screams for you to get a move on.

It’s practically a stampede as everyone is like freaking out to find out which class is their homeroom. It’s like Black Friday, but instead of flat screen TVs and DSLR cameras, people are pushing to try and find their homeroom posted up on the wall. It’s squishy, but I don’t feel out of place in the crowd.

Not until I run face first into some guy reading a book.

“Jesus!” he shouts as the book skids across the floor, under the pristine autumn sneakers of the wealthy middle class, and I want to cry. I’m trying to be inconspicuous here and already some cute stranger is angry that I accidentally head-butted him. I’m kind of angry, too. Mostly at myself.

I’m on the ground before I really think about the possibility of having my fingers crushed, reaching across a pair of gleaming Doc Martens. The boy kneels beside me, holding his nose. He grabs the book first, a blank hardcover with the dust jacket missing, and stands up so fast he almost head-butts the guy above him, nearly causing a devastating chain reaction.

“Oh my god, I’m so, so sorry,” I say, the words spilling out as fast as the blood slipping between his fingers. “Are you okay? God, what am I saying, obviously you’re not okay, you’re bleeding—”

He holds out the book—to shush me, I think? Anyway, it works. “I’m fine. It’s just a nosebleed, I don’t think it’s broken or anything. Just try to be more careful next time you charge into a crowd, for humanity’s sake.”

“Yes. Great idea. I will.”

He chuckles and holds the book against his chest. The light catches on the gold lettering along the spine. If it’s at all possible, the title of the book is more embarrassing than the predicament we’ve found ourselves in.

I find myself pointing. “Is that...?”

“Don’t judge me,” he says, turning his head. He grimaces and switches the grip on his nose, tilting his head back and pinching the bridge. “Is it too late to say it’s for a friend?”

“I love Magicats. I own every book Dennis Oak has ever written, even his first awful self-published novella.”

Magicats is this eight-volume young adult series about girls whose magical cats give them powers. It’s diverse and heartbreaking, and Dennis Oak is like one of the last remaining pseudonymous authors whose cover hasn’t been blown by the internet. Not to be sexist, but I’ve never seen a boy reading Magicats outside of a midnight release party.

“Yeah, guilty pleasure,” the boy says, grinning. His teeth are straight and white, like he walked right out of a Colgate commercial. “I guess now that you know my dirtiest secret, I should probably get your name.”

“Kiki,” I say, my face hot.

“Josh. And it looks like...” Josh says, squinting at the sheets of paper posted on the walls, “I’m in Writer's Craft first. Guess I’ll see you later, Kiki. And, uh, don’t tell anybody about this.”

He waves his book at me and makes his way through the crowd.

A hand touches my shoulder and Amber whispers, “Friend of yours?”

“I almost broke his nose.”

“You go, girl.”

5 out of 5 (exceptional)

Independent Reviewer for Archaeolibrarian - I Dig Good Books!

Trying to put feelings into words is always difficult but with Victory Lap it's harder.

I love Kiki, her resilience, how she knows who she is, the beautiful soul that shines from within... I also ache for her... becoming your true self isn't easy, especially with bullies always there. The support that a "normal" girl would get from their parents is lacking on her father's side, I hate him, his outdated ideas and his constant verbal abuse.

Josh is like a lot of people... blind to the signals of interest. I feel for him as it does cause a few issues. He also has his own identity to look into and work out what he wants from life. So, on the whole, I like him, but he'd definitely be the mate I sigh about the most.

It hurts knowing that this brilliant piece of fiction mirrors so many people's lives. Worse that it's the young that have to behave like adults and deal with things that adults themselves seem unable to wrap their heads around.

Regardless of who you are, where your niche is, READ THIS!!

** same worded review will appear elsewhere **

* A copy of this book was provided to me with no requirements for a review. I voluntarily read this book, and the comments here are my honest opinion. *

K.A. Mielke lives in Guelph, Ontario with his wife and entirely too many animals (including their four children). When not writing, he might be found professing his love for the local library, going for a run, or wondering if ghosts can hear his thoughts. He writes about brave girls, boys who need to quit being The Worst, and monsters. His stories and writing news can be found at


Riley Alexis Wood lives in Toronto, Ontario in a cutesy apartment in Greektown. Most often found at her day job as a hotshot corporate producer, she can also sometimes be found at home… where she’s busy producing esports events. In the rare moments she’s not found working, she is often progressing through Rory Gilmore’s reading list, playing chess, and drinking espresso. You can find her production work at