THE SIXTH MAN by John Feinstein


From the "Triple Threat" series, volume 2
Age Range: 12 - 18
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"Triple threat" Alex Myers turns his attention from football to basketball in this middle volume (The Walk On, 2014).

Alex's journey through basketball season is initially episodic. First, Alex and his teammate Jonas Ellington are forced to play junior varsity because gruff Coach Archer doesn't see football commitments as valid reasons for missing basketball practice. When they finally do join the varsity team, the boys—both freshmen—easily outplay their senior teammates, causing resentment. Meanwhile, Alex shyly courts Christine Whitford, a tenacious reporter for the school newspaper, and deals with the fallout from his parents' divorce, including a budding romance between Coach Archer and Alex's mom. When Max Bellotti, a transfer student whose own parents are divorcing, arrives midseason, the team finally has enough skilled players to be competitive. The story coalesces around Max's disclosure—first to Alex, Jonas, and Christine, and later to the general public—that he is gay. In contrast to older teen sports coming-out stories (Bill Konigsberg's 2008 Out of the Pocket, for example), the team stands largely united behind Max. In fact, some of Alex's retorts to nosy outsiders' questions read like a tutorial for supporting someone who is coming out. Woven into these many interpersonal story arcs are suspenseful and well-dramatized sports action scenes.

Solidly drawn, both on and off the court. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2015
ISBN: 978-0-385-75350-0
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2015


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