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POP by Gordon Korman Kirkus Star

POP

By Gordon Korman

Age Range: 12 & up

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-06-174228-6
Publisher: Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins

Football will be the way Marcus Jordan makes the transition to his new school, so he practices in the park, preparing for tryouts. There he meets the enigmatic Charlie, a middle-aged man who knows much about football and conveys what Marcus has been missing in his game: fearlessness. “I love the pop! Sometimes you actually hear it go pop!” As bad luck would have it, Charlie is the father of Troy, star of the team, who takes an instant dislike to Marcus. Soon it is clear that Charlie is not eccentric but suffering from early-onset Alzheimer’s caused by all the hits he took as a player in the NFL, a fact his family works hard to conceal. Marcus’s involvement with Charlie exposes the secret and reveals the family tensions it has created. This carefully structured story, despite the difficult issue at its core, engages readers primarily with complex characters (including secondary ones) and well-drawn relationships. The football scenes are riveting, but the poignant human drama more than holds its own. Banking his usual over-the-top humor, Korman goes straight to the heart. (Fiction. 12 & up)