From School Library Journal
Grade 6–10—A Contender
(HarperCollins, 1987) for racing fans. Born to a multigenerational racing family, 17-year-old Kyle Hillebrand gave up driving for his trumpet and his brass quintet. However, as his family struggles to get back into big-time racing, he is pulled between his love of music and his responsibility to his family. An injury to his brother, the heir apparent to the racing dynasty, puts Kyle back in the driver's seat in an attempt to continue the team's success in hopes of luring sponsorships that could lead back to NASCAR's Busch and Nextel Cup racing series. Kyle drives well in his substitute role and the team lands the sponsor, which leads to his family's planning a second car so that he can continue racing alongside the now-healthy Kris, forcing a decision by Kyle. His choice is complicated by pressure from his family and by friction with members of his quintet, who resent his time away to help out the racing team, as well as by two potential love interests, one in the quintet and the other an employee of the racers. Lipsyte maintains a good level of tension, leaving it unclear throughout most of the book which road Kyle will choose as he finds he enjoys both. Racing scenes are engaging and generally plausible, and they provide a good setting for the relationship issues and suspense inherent in a teen's choice between his desires and his family's expectations.—Jeffrey A. French, formerly at Willoughby-Eastlake Public Library, Willowick, OH
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Kyle Hildebrand comes from a family of legendary NASCAR drivers. His older brother, Kris, is the heir apparent to the family business and shows great promise. Kyle, meanwhile, is seemingly content to play trumpet in a brass quintet. After Kris is injured, Kyle takes his place behind the wheel and proves himself to be a skilled and savvy driver, and he questions if he should pursue his interest in music or turn to racing. Lipsyte taps into the ever-growing popularity of NASCAR with this effort. As usual, he is at his best when conveying the high-octane sports details, filling readers in on what it is like to be in the middle of a race, as well as the other elements of the NASCAR life, from the sponsors that need to be schmoozed to the ever-available groupies. Fans of the sport will love this and hope for more installments of Kyle's story. Morning, Todd