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From the author of Gym Candy comes a novel of football and bullying, finding friends and finding courage.With both good speed and good hands, wide receiver Brock Ripley should be a natural for the...
From the author of Gym Candy comes a novel of football and bullying, finding friends and finding courage.With both good speed and good hands, wide receiver Brock Ripley should be a natural for the...
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  • From the author of Gym Candy comes a novel of football and bullying, finding friends and finding courage.

    With both good speed and good hands, wide receiver Brock Ripley should be a natural for the varsity team, but he shies away from physical contact. When he gets cut from varsity, he also loses his friendship with star quarterback Hunter Gates who begins lashing out at not only Brock, but also Brock's friend, the quiet and smart Richie Fang. Brock wants to stand up for Fang, but he is younger, smaller, and doesn't want to cause problems. But when the bullying goes too far, will Brock be able to face his fears, stop being a bystander, and prove to himself that he is brave enough?

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 15, 2016
    Adding layers of complexity to the interactions of athletes, this sports novel set in Seattle offers a twofer: football and soccer.Hunter Gates, a blond, white quarterback with his future focused on football, has both henchmen and a high-pressure father. Chinese-American Richie Fang couldn't be more different. He's a boisterous spark plug who loves attention and bad jokes and is the ideal target for bullying despite his soccer prowess. He's also intensely competitive in every arena, with achievements in violin, math, architecture, and chess, fulfilling many model-minority stereotypes. Narrator Brock Ripley, a white sophomore and soccer goalie with a reputation for a yellow streak, befriends Richie. When Hunter's dad asks Brock to practice with Hunter, Brock discovers a potential as a football wide receiver due to good hands and ball sense. The two develop rapport on field, but Brock cringes as he witnesses Hunter's bullying, particularly of Richie--but he does nothing. Sharing chess and a parent who is not healthy with Richie brings them close. The foreshadowing of what happens when Richie is pushed beyond reason ratchets up the tension, mirrored by the play on the field over the two years covered. Race is crucial to the plot, as stereotypical expectations are both utilized and confronted; most characters are white or Asian, with a few African-Americans. The sports may hook readers, but the bullying will land them. (Fiction. 12-16)

    COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    August 1, 2016

    Gr 6-10-Brock Ripley has just finished the eighth grade. While playing with his friends at a local park, he is spotted by the high school quarterback, Hunter Gates, and Hunter's dad. They ask him if he would like to help run passes so Hunter can get ready for fall football. It's odd, but when Hunter throws the football, somehow he and Brock share a connection that sets up a successful partnership but also a complicated relationship. Brock is athletic enough and known for his speed. However, he is also known for his aversion to any form of contact. He played goalie for the middle school soccer team and lost a big game when he froze in the face of a big player racing toward him. It's the kind of behavior that labels someone "gutless," and Brock feels it a lot, even off the playing field, especially when Hunter starts to bully Brock's new friend, Richie Fang. Richie is a wunderkind, the kind of kid who excels at math and science but also plays soccer and football. But he's also a show-off, and this gets him in trouble with the jocks. When Richie blows the game that could take the team to the playoffs, Hunter takes it hard and tries to destroy Richie. Can Brock face his gutlessness and save Richie from serious retaliation? Full of play-by-play soccer and football action, this novel will appeal to sports fans who also like a well-crafted story. Deuker's characters are sharp, and the plot moves at a quick pace. Readers will empathize with Brock, who is also coping with a parent with a serious illness. His reactions to situations in the story as well as his perpetual honesty about his own limitations will endear him to readers. It is also refreshing to see that adults aren't always the infallible, wise heroes of the narrative. VERDICT A well-written offering that deals with coming-of-age, bullying, and exciting sports action; a touchdown for sports collections and reluctant readers.-Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH

    Copyright 2016 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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    Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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