A graphic novel slips home the fact that sports stars run the gamut of miseries we everyday Joes and Janes must confront.
Jeremiah “Jake” Jacobson is the world’s best hockey player, but he is a public relation man’s nightmare: He won’t do Q-and-As or sell products for the good of the marketing department. Indeed, though he may rack up points like a pinballer on a hot streak, he is practically a recluse. Tom Leonard, on the other hand, is a college sophomore in awe of Jacobson, and they become friends through a chance encounter. Tom soon learns that Jake gets some cool perks with the fame—private dining rooms, private screenings of movies—and he also learns that Jake does a lot of volunteer work on the down low. Jake also smokes like a chimney and drinks way too much booze. So starts the slow revelation of truths: Sports are only as good as your love of the game; secrecy and denial gradually core you like an apple; all of us must address painful issues. Shapiro does a good job of expressing how difficult—and important—it is to talk about our emotions and weaknesses and that good friendship runs deep with thoughtful honesty. Inoue’s illustrations are clean-lined if sometimes difficult to read, while Mossa’s coloring creates a moody atmosphere.
There are no simple answers in this thoughtful outing. (Graphic fiction. 8-14)