Tennis-whiz Floyd knows exactly what he’ll be when he grows up; Mike, a new, mysterious acquaintance, has other ideas.
Floyd’s white, affluent parents are passionate about tennis; the family business is building tennis courts in Sheffield, England. Unlike Floyd, his dad started late on the path to becoming a tennis pro only to have an injury permanently end his career. After spotting Floyd’s coach about to hit another child in training, his dad took over coaching Floyd himself. He’s a good coach and loving father, and Floyd is acutely sensitive to how invested both parents are in his career. When Floyd, age 5, won his first tournament, his parents rewarded him with a tropical fish. A decade of wins later, his collection takes up five tanks. Floyd’s puzzled by Mike, a strange boy who shows up occasionally. Only when Mike distracts him during a match does Floyd discover that only he can see Mike. Soon, with psychologist Dr. Pinner as guide, Floyd embarks on an urgent journey: to learn who Mike is, figure out what he wants, and realize that, when choosing our path through life, who we listen to matters. If the omniscient narrative voice, psychic distance, and a plot spanning years defy YA norms, what results has the enigmatic resonance of parable.
Covering considerable ground—literally and figuratively—this short, lucid novel leaves readers plenty to ponder, including its intriguing cover. (Fiction. 12-14)