Ever since his mom left, Riley has been a mess. He feels nervous all the time. His heart pounds, his neck is tight, and he can't seem to turn off his brain. His dad signs him up for aikido, hoping it will help.
In the dojo, Riley meets boys who are much rougher than he is and a girl who is tougher than all the rest of them put together. For Wafaa, aikido is not her first choice. She was disqualified from competing in judo for wearing a hijab. From the first time she steps on the mat, it's clear she is far more skilled than anyone expected.
Through the teachings of their sensei, Riley and his classmates come to understand that aikido is not about winning or losing or about being perfect. Sensei shows them how to tap into their inner strength and find their place in the universe.
"Ideal for martial arts fans looking for fiction that reflects their world, or else fictional guidance on relieving anxiety. Recommended."
"Addressing mental health with empathy…an unexpected lesson that shows 'learning to fall' is an important step in developing resilience."
"An interesting and engaging fast-paced read with strong, positive messages about self-control, self-improvement, and self-discipline."