From School Library Journal
Gr 4-8-Harrison has spent his youth passed from one foster home to another. When he is rescued from an abusive couple and placed with the Kellys, things seem almost too good. Mr. Kelly is the JV football coach at Harrison's new secondary school, and Mrs. Kelly is a lawyer. They have always wanted a child of their own, and soon Harrison is calling her "Mom" and playing on Coach's team. In spite of his lack of football experience, he proves unstoppable on the field when he gets the ball in his hands. Not all of his teammates are happy about their new 13-year-old star, and when Leo intentionally injures him during a practice, it just makes Harrison more determined to play. The knee injury doesn't get better, though, and an MRI shows much more than a torn ligament: suddenly, Harrison is being treated for bone cancer. He goes through surgery, requiring the amputation of part of his leg, and then chemotherapy, and he vacillates between depression and anger. Helping him through it are Coach and Mrs. Kelly, as well as Coach's old Army buddy, Major Bauer, who lost a leg in the Gulf War. Even when Harrison wants to push his friends away, they rally around him, and he allows himself to dream of playing football again, inspired by real-life athlete and amputee Jeff Keith. In short chapters with cliff-hanger endings, Green clearly shows the difficulties that the teen overcomes, and the truly unstoppable spirit that resides within him. While the dialogue can be a little mawkish, this is a hopeful story that Green's fans will enjoy.-Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VAα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
With a sharp intensity fueled by both wrenching events and the main character’s white-hot core of rage, Green sends an abused foster kid blasting his way through daunting challenges on and off the football field. Thirteen-year-old Harrison is caught by surprise when his fifth set of foster parents turn out to be a loving couple. Though justifiably suspicious of this change of fortune, he not only makes new friends at school but finds a channel for his temper in the school football team coached by his new foster father. So overwhelmingly fast, strong, and brutal is Harrison that he even intimidates his own team members. But his dream of NFL glory is cut short when an MRI on a knee injury reveals bone cancer advanced enough to require amputation. With coaching from both a hard-nosed disabled vet and an indomitable young fellow patient, Harrison sets his sights not just on rehabilitation but a return to the gridiron. Unlike Green’s previous novels, the game action largely stays in the background, while Harrison’s ferocious struggles with inner demons and physical obstacles make absorbing reading. Grades 5-8. --John Peters