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Edgy YA Fiction, Striking Debut,
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This review is from: Leverage (Kindle Edition)
If you enjoy books about sports, then you may very well enjoy this book.
If you DON'T particularly enjoy "sports books," you also will enjoy this edgy book.
Despite the cover and cover description, sports in this book is more of a setting for human drama than the main thrust of the story. Leverage is a book about bullying and the fallout. It's about how people handle it when bad things - really bad things - happen. It's about friendship and loyalty too.
In our social media age, bullying these days often takes the form of cyber-bullying. But in Leverage, bullying is the old-fashioned kind. "I'm big, you're small, therefore I can do to you what I want. And because I'm seen as popular (i.e. powerful), I'll get away with it."
The story is told from two different perspectives - Danny and Kurt. Danny is a sophomore, small and a gymnast. Kurt is a large, hulking football player. He's not stupid, though his stutter makes him appear so. Danny and Kurt form a strange duo and an unlikely pair.
Leverage is a tautly woven tale about making choices, about finding courage, and about the consequences of our actions. Cohen creates wonderful tension in the book. You know from the first couple of chapters that something bad is going to happen. You don't know what and you don't know when. But you know it's coming.
The "bad thing" that happens comes at about the 40% mark. And as a reader, I felt the tension - actually began to sweat - as the "bad thing" began to unfold. Author Cohen did a great job of "showing" just the right amount. The big scene isn't for those who cannot abide any form of sexual violence (fair warning). As someone who avoids contemporary realism (I love Ellen Hopkins' writing but find her books too harsh to read), I was able to read Leverage. The author didn't resort to sensationalizing the scene to emotionally manipulate the reader.
The remainder of the book explores the aftermath of the horrible thing that happens. The main characters, the ones involved - even the town itself - is explored.
Joshua Cohen is a bright star of a writer, giving us a wonderful first book that makes us want more from him.