PLAYING A VIRGINIA MOON by Peter J. Neumann

PLAYING A VIRGINIA MOON

Age Range: 14 & up
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KIRKUS REVIEW

 An overwritten (though sometimes compelling) story of a track star shooting for a record-breaking season. After a summer's training, Chet Tralek is ready to challenge his high school's 10- year-old cross-country record, set by the now-legendary Johnny Fiske, killed in a car crash as a senior. Chet posts a string of victories, but his focus is disturbed both by a budding relationship with enigmatic sophomore Maggie Holman and by the sudden appearance of even-more-enigmatic Jimmy Fiske, Johnny's ne'er-do-well brother and another extraordinary runner. Despite taut race sequences and a well-informed exploration of the mental and physical preparations required for athletic success, the story sinks beneath the weight of Neumann's arty prose (``A few stars had already tiptoed into twilight's violet ceiling when Chet picked Maggie up''), which--with the occasional profanity--gives it a mannered, self-conscious air. A subplot in which Chet writes a term paper on Robert E. Lee is overlong and, at best, tangential. Furthermore, Chet's humorless intensity will alienate readers as it isolates him from the rest of the cast; his eventual failure in the Big Race (the day after finding Fiske and Holman necking at a party) is unlikely to elicit much sympathy or understanding. (Fiction. YA)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-395-66562-0
Page count: 240pp
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1994