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The Breakaways

The Breakaways is a new middle-grade graphic novel with First Second, coming out March 5, 2019! “Bad at soccer. Okay at friends.”

The Breakaways

The Breakaways is a new middle-grade graphic novel from First Second, available now! Written and drawn by me, Cathy G. Johnson, with colors by Kevin Czap.



- Kirkus Review

This graphic novel focuses on the members of a remedial middle school soccer team — so, not the A-team, and not the B-team, but rather the kids who can barely even play the sport.

“They’re the worst of the worst, they suck at soccer and most of them hate it. But what it’s mostly about is their friendships and how they evolve and how they affect each other’s lives,” Brill says. “It’s a funny, honest, moving portrait of what the lives of middle schoolers are actually like. It also captures the incredible diversity of experience that many middle schoolers have in a powerful way. Cathy is an educator, so this is drawing directly from her experiences with students.”

- Entertainment Weekly

Age Range: Middle-grade, 8 - 11 years

Themes: Friendship, relationships, overcoming odds, slice-of-life

Summary: Quiet, sensitive Faith starts middle school already worrying about how she will fit in. To her surprise, Amanda, a popular eighth grader, convinces her to join the school soccer team, the Bloodhounds. Having never played soccer in her life, Faith ends up on the C team, a ragtag group that’s way better at drama than at teamwork. Although they are awful at soccer, Faith and her teammates soon form a bond both on and off the soccer field that challenges their notions of loyalty, identity, friendship, and unity.

The Breakaways is a portrait of friendship in its many forms, and a raw and beautifully honest look into the lives of a diverse and defiantly independent group of kids learning to make room for themselves in the world.

Order today!

Can’t order? Your school or local library can order it for you! You ask through something called a purchase request! Ask your teacher or librarian how to do it!

"Johnson's graphic novel will resonate with readers who are figuring out who they are and where they belong."

- Publishers Weekly


  • Age Range: Middle-grade, 8 - 14 years

  • Grade Level: 3 - 8

  • Paperback: 224 pages

  • Publisher: First Second (March 5, 2019)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1626723575

  • ISBN-13: 978-1626723573

  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 8 inches 

    Learn more at the publisher’s website, Macmillan!

“…kids after empowering, character-driven stories about realistic friendships will fall in love.”

- Booklist

“…painfully realistic and quite empathetic to the plight of others… full of strong characters in dynamic relationships to each other.”

- School Library Journal


Meet The Bloodhounds!

Meet The Bloodhounds, the mighty middle school soccer C-team who star in The Breakaways!


#11 Faith

Faith is a quiet artist with a BIG imagination! Middle school is tough, but hopefully her new soccer team will help her survive. Maybe?


#01 Sodacan

Sodacan is the lead singer and guitarist for The Creepers! Sodacan does what she wants, when she wants, and gets her friends to come along!


#02 Marie

Marie is BFF with Sodacan and plays piano in The Creepers. Marie does not suffer fools, and is quick to roll her eyes. Once you are friends with her, she’ll support you to the end!


#03 Jalissa

Jalissa is the happiest girl in middle school! She loves photography, reading, and hanging out with her awesome friends. She is AMAZING at soccer, oh my gosh!


#04 Huong

Huong is totally the best soccer player, but she’s stuck on this bad team because her dad is the coach! She is hardworking and kicks butt, and won’t let anyone get in her way.


#05 Bulldog + #06 Warthog

Bulldog and Warthog are best friends who dress like twinsies every day. No one understands them, and who cares, because they look great!


#07 Zoe

Zoe is the (fake) tattooed rebel of the team. She would rather be doing anything other than playing soccer, like wandering around a graveyard.


#08 Yarelis

Yarelis is the tallest girl on the team, so she’s stuck being the goalie. How fun! (Can you feel the sarcasm?) Beneath her quiet demeanor lies… a very bored teenager.


#09 Sammy

Sammy is the chillest person ever, and will happily follow wherever you go. Who cares! Let’s play video games! Whatever!


#10 V

V is small but mighty. She tries her best, which isn’t always good enough. She just wants some friends who GET it!


#12 Nadia

Nadia is pretty sure she’s the best at soccer. Come on, she’ll play you! What are you, chicken?


Check out an excerpt from The Breakaways!:

Bonus Content!


The Breakaways Mixtape!

Mixtape to accompany your reading of THE BREAKAWAYS! Features punk + pop tracks!

Parental advisory: Ask an adult first before you listen! Click here to listen at 8tracks (outside link)!


Fan Art!


This wonderful comic is by a student during a library visit in 2019! I love how it creates a new story between the Bloodhounds, resolving their disagreements. Wonderful!


Drawing of Faith by a reader at the Boston Kids Comic Fest 2019! Thank you so much!

Here is fan art of the whole Bloodhounds team, by The Breakaways colorist Kevin Czap!



“How Comics and Graphic Novels Are Changing the Way We See LGBTQ+ Characters in YA Fiction,” Floor 8 - Link

“NYCC ’19: LGBTQ+ creators on queerness in comics,” The Beat- Link

LGBTQIA+ Graphic Novels for Young Readers | Stellar Panels,” School Library Journal - Link

“Interview: Cathy G. Johnson on ‘The Breakaways’,” School Library Journal - Link

“The Breakaways will resonate with young readers living through the years when so much of existence revolves around finding friends, making friends and learning who you can and can't tell your truths to, usually with a lot of embarrassment and pain along the way. I am especially glad I have The Breakaways as, for the first time in my five years as an elementary school librarian, I have a fifth grade student who confided in me that she is gay and struggling to talk about it with her friends. I am grateful that I have this stellar book to put in her hands and, later, into the hands of students who will find their compassion and understanding of the world deepening when they read The Breakaways, no matter what their cultural, gender or sexual identity.”

- Books4YourKids