From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Coy takes the topic of football and weaves it in and out of other conflicts typical of teenage boys such as father/son relationships, girls, steroids, and realizing that there is more to life than just the game. Miles is a likable and talented player who tries to please everyone: coaches, his father, his teachers, and the girl he is interested in. Regardless of his efforts or his talents, he can't seem to satisfy his coach and winds up on the bench where he meets, and likes, the second-string players who have lives outside of football–something that has never occurred to Miles or his father. In addition, he refuses to take steroids, even though his teammates do. Through his struggles with his coach and his dad, he begins to learn that life is complicated and that answers don't always come in the form of X's and O's. The family secret that drives his father, the interesting girl who shows him that the world is a big place, and the intense, sometimes unbelievable coach who teaches him that you can't please some people, no matter what, give Miles a new, perhaps healthier, perspective. Boys will appreciate the well rounded characters and the plot that mixes sports with real life. It doesn't hurt that there is some great football action throughout.–Julie Webb, Shelby County High School, Shelbyville, KY
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*Starred Review* Gr. 8-11. Sophomore football star Miles is excited about his strong team's chances in the new season. Then his favorite coach resigns, and Miles chafes under the new coach, who favors phrases such as "This isn't a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I'm the Dick." Miles feels alienated from his teammates at school, who have turned to steroids, and also at home, with his angry father. In his first novel, the author of several picture books, including Strong to the Hoop
(1998), writes a moving, nuanced portrait of a teen struggling with adults who demand, but don't always deserve, respect. A subplot involving a school assignment about family roots and the Middle Passage feels somewhat patched on, but Coy connects the story's diverse elements--family secrets, his father's rage and homophobia, a burgeoning romance, football, and shifting friendships--in a loose jumble that, like Miles' strong first-person voice, is sharply authentic, open-ended, and filled with small details that signify larger truths. For another powerful look at the emotional lives of male teen athletes, suggest A. M. Jenkins' Damage
(2001). Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved