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Muckers Library Binding – October 8, 2013
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Red O’Sullivan is a scrawny quarterback for the Hatley Muckers, and he’s got quite a legacy. His brother, killed in WWII, was the last quarterback to take the hardscrabble high-school football team to victory, and now that the copper mine (the sole industry keeping Hatley afloat) is about to shut down, Muckers football is the only thing the small Arizona town has to look forward to. As residents continue to leave Hatley and their team members dwindle, the Muckers make the most of their meager resources—pushing a school bus instead of tackling dummies and running drills at the bottom of the mining pit—and rally to take on teams both bigger in number and in size. Based on a true story, Wallace’s novel follows the tough-as-nails, desegregated Muckers as they dig their heels into the slag and face impossible odds, all while the threat of racial tensions, anti-Communist sentiments, and the Korean War simmer in the background. Wallace, a former ESPN correspondent, captures a vivid sense of atmosphere and well-wrought characters, all while showcasing balls-to-the-wall football action. Grades 9-12. --Sarah Hunter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
THE BULLETIN, November 2013:
"Wallace makes [her characters] live and breathe through careful attention to the quotidian details of local geography and universal motivators—guilt, friendship, spite, encouragement, anger, and talent."
Starred Review, School Library Journal, December 2013:
"… fans of H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights (Addison-Wesley, 1990) and other football histories will appreciate this inspiring tale.”
From the Hardcover edition.
Top customer reviews
Set in the early 1950's, Hatley has already seen better times and is positioned for oblivion as the mine is about to close and the high school seems to be following suit. Red, the main character, is at that crisis period in his life. His brother has been killed in the war and Red wants to follow in his footsteps. An attempt to live his life for his brother who left too early? Probably. The focus to go to state is on the face of it unlikely, but miracles can happen.
This is a novel of persistence, following dreams, and defying the odds. The team has grit despite a lack of decent equipment or even an adequate playing ground. While this story sounds like a take on Friday Night Lights, it is about dealing with loss set in the context of 1950's America and the prevalent issues of the day such as the Korean War, the economy, and racism.
I liked this book. It had heart and a good plot, but it also had history going for it. I liked the retro feel of it as the issues of the time were blended with the story.
I thought the writing was good as was the character development. It generally was fast paced and didn't drag too much.
This will appeal to sports lovers, but they will also get a surprise history lesson, too.
Note: ARC received via Amazon Vine in exchange for a review.
Hatley, Arizona is actually based on the real-life town of Jerome, Arizona. The rough and tumble story of this plucky small team (small in stature and in number) is inspiring and a real treat to sports lovers and to readers that like stories about underdogs.
It is 1950 and the Hatley Muckers are one of the few non-segregated teams in the state. So this story is not only about football but about racial tension - on the team, in the town and at the state level when the Muckers actually make it to the state championship game (I don't consider that to be a spoiler since it talks about the championship in many blurbs I read).
Family strife, romance, loss, friendship - this book covers a lot of ground. It does drag in a few spots and I never really got the feel that this was a Young Adult book as advertised. It felt much more targeted to an adult audience. I've mentioned in other reviews that just because the main protagonists in a book are young, it doesn't necessarily make that a Young Adult book. There is some adult language sprinkled throughout the story also.
But I do consider this to be a good story - one well worth reading.