THE PRODIGY by John Feinstein


Age Range: 11 - 13
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A teenager faces the exhilarating—and dismal—prospect of becoming a golfing phenom.

Having made the previous year’s U.S. Amateur semifinals, 17-year-old Frank vows to do even better this time around—and so he does, persevering through challenges and distractions to qualify for the Masters at Augusta National. Meanwhile, Frank’s determination to attend college and the cautionary example of Tiger Woods and his greedy, domineering dad notwithstanding, his divorced father has fallen into the clutches of a bottom-feeding agent who is steering him toward forcing his young phenom to turn pro. Though the phrase “suspenseful golf action” may strike most readers as cognitive dissonance, Feinstein (Backfield Boys, 2017, etc.) does a good job of driving his tale down the fairway by putting his protagonist through a series of spectacular feats and comebacks on real courses and filling out his cast with actual renowned golf pros, journalists, and officials. Along with laying in generous measures of golf’s jargon, and elaborate rituals of play as Frank rolls along to the Masters’ final round, the author tees off on the sport’s checkered racist and sexist history as well as unsavory corporate sponsors and the money-grubbing NCAA. Frank remains heroically above all of that, though…particularly after a climactic act of sportsmanship leaves him on the moral high ground. The book follows a white default.

All in all, well below par…in the very best sense. (Sports fiction. 11-13)

Pub Date: Aug. 28th, 2018
ISBN: 978-0-374-30595-6
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 2018


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