review: the fifth quarter by mike dawson

The Fifth Quarter by Mike Dawson

Get ready to hit the court in this heartfelt, sporty, graphic novel!
Lori Block is dedicated to her fourth-grade basketball team, despite being relegated to an extra period before the real game starts, known as the fifth quarter, where the not-so-good kids play and the points don’t count. That doesn’t matter to Lori though, because working on her skills gives her hints of self-confidence, which is a nice break from feeling awkward and out-of-place in her daily life. With athletic promise and a dogged determination to keep improving, Lori pursues her passion while navigating awkward social dynamics, her own expectations, and her first overnight away from home. Will her drive allow her to find true courage both on the court, in school, and at home? (from the back cover)


You may have seen Mike Dawson‘s work before, as a cartoonist regularly featured on The Nib, or one of his prior graphic novels, like Rules for Dating My Daughter. His storytelling is consistently smart, funny, and insightful, so when he decided to write a series based on his middle school daughter’s experiences, I was definitely excited. Now, full disclosure here, Mike and I are good friends in real life. Am I about to give The Fifth Quarter a totally biased review? No. But I am going to tell you that I loved it, and you and your kids should definitely read it.

One of the things that I enjoyed so much about The Fifth Quarter is that parents and children will be able to read it together and both appreciate different aspects. As a mom of three, every scene of harried parenting resonated. You know when you go to the grocery store and you have all your kids with you and they’re losing their minds while you text your partner asking what kind of juice they wanted? Yeah, that’s in there.

And the scenes from the basketball games are spot on. In the bleachers, half the parents are on their phones instead of watching the game; the other half of he parents are screaming support to their players. Great action shots move you through the games.

For kids reading the book, they will easily relate to how friendships change so easily in the tween years based on changing interests, or meeting new people outside your grade/ town who you connect with, and all the awkwardness that comes with figuring out how to navigate between the different groups. Or when your parents drag you to adult things, and you’re bored out of your mind and just want to go home and play Roblox.

The Fifth Quarter is able to be light and fun and also add in some more serious (but not too serious) themes, as well as show what happens if you try your best. Maybe you’ll succeed at your goal, maybe you’ll fall short, but you can’t be afraid to fail.

The Fifth Quarter by Mike Dawson will be released on May 25, 2021 and is available for preorder on Amazon and your local bookstore.



Disclosure: I received an advanced digital review copy from the author



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