Friday, April 26, 2013
David Klass and Perri Klass
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2013
Genre: Sports, Realistic
Description: Kendall, New Jersey, is a small town that lives and breathes football. Jerry Downing is the town’s star quarterback. He has recently fallen from grace though as he was involved in a drunk driving car crash that left him with only a few minor cuts and scrapes but nearly killed another girl—a freshman he didn’t even know. Carla Jenson is the lead reporter for the Kendall Kourier, the high school newspaper. She focuses a lot on sports reporting as she herself was a star soccer player for the school until an ACL injury took her out of the game—probably for good. In order to help Jerry get back on his feet she invites him to blog for the newspaper about the football season from a player’s own perspective. As Carla faces her own painful surgery to help rehabilitate her leg, she gets more and more interesting in the science behind sports injuries. When Jerry’s best friend, Danny, takes a hit during a football game a little too hard and Carla is forced by the principal to silence her article about brain injuries in sports until after the championship game (and quite possibly forever) Carla begins to wonder when an injury in the game comes attached with a high cost—possibly the player’s life. Unfortunately for her no one else in town wants to listen.
Opinion: First of all, I love the cover! This will be a cover that appeals to guys who like sports stories but also has a vibe that might get girls to pick it up. I have nothing against sports stories (when I was younger in fact some of my favorite books featured sports—Moves Make the Man by Bruce Brooks and On the Devil’s Court by Carl Deuker) so I was interested in this story that was part sports/part realistic investigation into sports injuries. The thing I disliked the most about the book was that it really did drag quite a bit. It’s only about 270 pages and it really didn’t get to the meat of the story until more than half way through. I am also a bit torn on the fact that the story was actually told in Jerry and Carla’s blog posts. I think it kind of made the story less active as all the events where happening after the fact (they happened and then were being written about). The parts that I loved about the story were indeed that possibly clichéd elements—Carla’s interaction with the principal who basically threatens her college future if she doesn’t hush up her story about brain injuries in sports made me so friggin’ mad! The fact that she overheard him calling Jerry bad names and threatens the coach too if he didn’t play Danny if astonishing. It goes to show how a small town, ignorant attitude and a “must win” attitude are very bad attitudes to mesh together. I like that Carla stood up for herself and I wish readers were told how her mother’s legal battle against the principal ended up going. The other thing I found myself enjoying was the information about sports injuries. Obviously Ms. Klass knows her stuff and was able to make it informative and interesting at the same time. I think this book, while slow at times, would be a good choice for classroom or book club discussion as it covers a lot of good pro vs. con arguments (when are injuries so bad you stop the player from playing, the attitude of the town to win no matter what the cost, censorship, etc.).
Thanks to people at Farrar, Straus, and Giroux for the ARC for the YA Galley Group!