From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-In this series, Felton Reinstein must come to grips with heartbreak, dysfunction, hope, and his own unexpected transformation from nebbish to gifted athlete. As in Sherman Alexie's The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian (Little, Brown, 2007), Felton's family problems and personal anxieties are deeply felt but leavened considerably by his wry, self-deprecating narration. Audio version for Stupid Fast available from Recorded Books.α(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Felton Reinstein’s world has seemed to spiral out of control before (Stupid Fast, 2011; Nothing Special, 2012), but not quite as spectacularly as in this look at the Wisconsin football phenom’s high school years. The pressure is truly on as Felton, a senior, has to cope with the stresses of college recruitment. When his girlfriend, Aleah, breaks off their long-distance romance, and the brother of the bullied freshman he mentors kills himself, Felton violently unravels. Identifying with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Felton struggles with his own royal role as sports hero and his father’s legacy as angry suicide. Friends alternately help and hurt him, his mother remains clueless, and a drinking spree puts him in danger of not only getting suspended from sports but also becoming more like his father than he knows. Herbach’s character will continue to resonate with readers. The scenes of college coaches wooing Felton are spectacularly drawn, and his ultimate decisions about his “mortal coil” are anything but facile. Will Herbach follow his hero to Stanford? We can hope. Grades 7-10. --Karen Cruze