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BIG SLICK by Eric Luper


by Eric Luper

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Oct. 9th, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-374-30799-8
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Poker prodigy Andrew Lang steals $600 from the family dry-cleaning business to play in an underground tournament and scrambles to replace the cash before his dad finds out. Luper’s authentic first-person narrative captures teen frustrations, feelings of confinement and the mottled world of poker. Gambling segments provide powerful momentum, upping the ante and racing the reader’s pulse like an amphetamine. Poker permeates the book, just as it consumes the mind of a gambler. Coy chapter headings assume the names of real poker hands, and card suits appear next to each page number. Andrew’s fascination with statistics, stakes and strategies pull the reader into the game’s fold. Poker’s darker forces appear in equally blemished, overlapping adult and teen worlds that feature ugly strains of violence, addiction and personal compromise. Teens will appreciate Andrew’s need for risk-taking and secretive escape, as well as Luper’s refusal to offer seamless, happy endings. A sweet crush, a cute little brother and a flashy casino road trip keep the novel from disappearing entirely into poker’s shadows. (Fiction. YA)