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SHOOTING STAR by Fredrick L.  McKissack Jr. Kirkus Star


by Fredrick L. McKissack Jr.

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2009
ISBN: 978-1-4169-4745-5
Publisher: Atheneum

Sophomore Jomo Rodgers knows he could be a college-football prospect if he had more size. His best friend Jayson, with great football skills and pro-player size, is constantly getting attention from college scouts. Having little faith that this will happen naturally, Jomo begins taking steroids and revels in the changes he sees and feels in his new physique. Of course, the ill effects of the drugs and dealing with their supplier begin, and Jomo is desperate to cope with the situation. A near tragedy explodes Jomo’s secret. This is much more than a cautionary tale about steroid use in high-school students. Jomo is one of a handful of African-American students in a private school, an aspect of the story handled with nuance and insight. The dialogue is smart; Jomo’s relationships with his peers, his girlfriend and his college-professor father ring true. Even the limited appearance of Jomo’s mother (his parents are experiencing marital difficulties) provides insight into Jomo’s personality. A strong narrative and layered characterizations elevate this timely story. (Fiction. 12 & up)