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Hit Count Hardcover – May 19, 2015
"Children of Blood and Bone"
Tomi Adeyemi conjures a stunning world of dark magic and danger in her West African-inspired fantasy debut. Learn more
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From School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—Arlo Brodie's devotion to football progresses throughout his high school years, even as evidence mounts that repeated head injuries are affecting him both cognitively and emotionally. In four sections that correspond to the four years of high school, Arlo describes the manner in which the sport gradually becomes an obsession, driving him to train incessantly and take ever greater risks in practice and games. He ignores the warnings of his mother, his girlfriend, and his own body until he is forced to confront his violent nature after grabbing his girlfriend during an argument in school. Comparisons are sure to be made with the author's groundbreaking Inexcusable (S. & S, 2005). Readers expecting the intense, concentrated focus of the earlier book, however, may be disappointed in this more diffuse effort, which features, for instance, a never-resolved subplot involving Arlo's jealousy of an older guy he thinks his girlfriend may be seeing. The novel also has some issues in terms of voice and narrative arc. In the first section, the 14-year-old Arlo comes across as entirely too erudite and sophisticated for a freshman, and the entire final section seems confusing as Arlo takes up boxing, of all things, to substitute for the football he has had to abandon because of his head trauma. His motivation for doing so is never sufficiently explained and the closing chapters are likely to leave readers scratching their heads. VERDICT An intriguing work that raises troubling questions about the culture of violence in American high school sports.—Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT
“Head injury debate becomes real life for [a] teen baller. . . action and sharp writing.”—Sports Illustrated
“The strength of this hard-hitting novel is how well award-winning author Chris Lynch portrays the drive and hunger of young football players . . . This intense timely story provides incredible insight as to why knowledge of football's potential danger is not enough to keep young players from taking the field.” —Kirkus Reviews
“An important work that raises troubling questions about the culture of violence in American high school sports.” —School Library Journal
“This unflinching examination of the price of athletic power, with plenty of bone-crunching play-by-play action, is both thought-provoking and formidable.” —The Horn Book
“Lynch offers a powerful, provocative look at the dark side of popular sports and their potential cost, using Arlo as a cautionary, even tragic tale. Arlo’s rise and fall is handled skillfully, allowing readers into the self-destructive, self-deceiving mindset of an addict without condemning him.” —Publishers Weekly
“Fledgling football players should read this of-the-moment young-adult novel.” —All You Magazine
“After reading Hit Count by Chris Lynch, I wanted to kiss the head of my STEM-loving 15-year-old son, who likes to watch football but has never been a player. Hit Count is a tough-love YA novel from an award-winning author about the personal stakes involved with high-school football . . . Hit Count takes a much-debated topic and turns it into a heart-pounding, entertaining young adult read.” —Washington Independent Review of Books
“Arlo’s voice is objective and clear-headed, implying that his addled brain has been set to rights, but it carries the bittersweet memory of real joy in the mayhem he caused and punishment he endured throughout his short-lived career. It’s that honesty that will ring true with fans and players, perhaps for that moment just before they toss the book aside with a ‘Won’t happen to anybody I know.’” —Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
“Arlo’s voice is objective and clear-headed, implying that his addled brain has been set to rights, but it carries the bittersweet memory of real joy in the mayhem he caused and punishment he endured throughout his short-lived career. It’s that honesty that will ring true with fans and players, perhaps for that moment just before they toss the book aside with a ‘Won’t happen to anybody I know.’” —BCCB
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