An amiable first novel that portrays the slow and reluctant coming of age of the tomboy daughter of a college football coach. Elizabeth Donegal carries all of the usual burdens that afflict the young and the insecure, plus one: She knows more about football than most of the boys and all of the girls in her class. That's because Liz's Daddy is an assistant coach and her life revolves around the football season of whatever college town they happen to be living in at the moment. ``Peace was not a high priority in a football family,'' according to Liz, who found out the hard way. Nearly every year, after all, the Donegals moved to a new town in the hope that Daddy could work his way up to Head Coach, and, as a result, a life lived out of suitcases and in motels and boys' dorms has left the Donegal children with only the vaguest conception (and no firsthand experience) of what most of their peers consider normal homes and family life. 

Copyright ©1996, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

Library Journal

“Growing up the oldest daughter of a football coach in a Catholic family is not easy. Liz Donegal's father is constantly on the road and expects full support of his football activities. When his team has a bad season, he simply moves on and expects his wife and children to adjust to their new environs. Awkward and ill at ease with herself, Liz invariably suffers from these transitions (eight of them before she graduates from high school). Fortunately, she has an extraordinary aunt and uncle who offer unconditional love and reach out to make her feel special at a critical juncture of her life. By the novel's end, she experiences a series of firsts, including a best friend and a boyfriend. After a long struggle with self-acceptance, Liz learns the answer is in ‘remembering who you are and claiming it.’ An impressive debut; recommended."

Kimberly G. Allen, networkMCI Lib., Washington, D.C.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

The New Yorker  

“It's not easy being a football coach's daughter. The author is one herself, and she's drawn on her own life to invent stubborn, intense, imaginative Liz Donegal, the central character of this funny first novel. Young Liz can't get used to being a girl: "How can this be happening? I've been a boy so long," she wails to her mother when she first gets her period. After a few days of feeling like Moses in the Red Sea," Liz decides on a hysterectomy: "Mama had been talking about [Mrs. Eliot] having one, and it seemed like just the ticket." Liz doesn't go under the knife, of course; and gradually, she figures out how even girls can get what they want from life.”

The New York Post

“A nicely-told coming-of-age story about a girl doomed to the itinerant life of following her college football coach father around to penitentiary towns.”


“Kerry Madden-Lunsford's fresh, often hilarious, first novel presents a bittersweet and unforgettable view of adolescence. The heroine is young Liz Donegal, the oldest daughter in an Irish Catholic family, who must endure the injustices of growing up misunderstood. When she's not busy transforming herself into Helen Keller or Anne Frank, Liz is falling in love, making new friends, and learning that life has some painful lessons.”

Diane Keaton

“A tremendously funny and touching book. I really loved it. When’s it going to be a book on tape?”

Orange Coast Magazine

“The football season is never over in Liz Donegal’s family, and its Rah!-Rah! Spirit provides the hilarious background for this coming-of-age novel. Daddy is an ambitious, itinerant college football coach who has uprooted his family eight times in 17 years, and is “a sort of football Polonius,” except surlier. Baby sister Peaches can’t wait to be a cheerleader. Brother Joe-Sam throws footballs at the of 2, and little Leo’s first words are, ‘Hut, hut, hike.’” - Marilyn Hudson

Rocky Mountain News

“Although sports dominate the American scene, fans rarely consider the family lives of coaches and team members who struggle for victory game after game, regardless of the personal price paid. In this brilliant first novel, Kerry Madden-Lunsford, herself the daughter of a college-football coach, creates a memorable young heroine. Liz Donegal, the narrator, is the oldest of four children in an Irish Catholic family fathered by an irascible, all-jock college-football coach.” - Joan Hinkemeyer