HAIL TO THE CHIEFS by Stephen James Poppoon


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A coming-of-age story about a group of high school soccer stars navigating their first year of college after they all decide to attend the same Midwestern school.

Readers tag along with the boys as their parents drop them off at college and the freshmen adjust to dorm life, practice soccer and even drink a beer—or four—at a frat party. Readers are privy to the boys’ first steps into adulthood in the ’60s. Best friends Barrett and Paxton steal the show: Barrett has always been the star athlete dating the star cheerleader, while Paxton plays the father figure, the practical sidekick, still well-liked but not quite stepping out of the shadows. But that all changes during the boys’ freshman year at Bainbridge University in Indiana. It’s a school where the girls are pretty, football reigns supreme, and not everything is as it seems. Poppoon has a knack for painting vivid scenes—from a night out drinking Rolling Rock at Fitzgerald’s and listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival to game day on the pitch, with perfect descriptions of every last pass, shot and goal. However, the play-by-play of nearly every maneuver during a game can become a bit tedious, even for the most fanatical of fans. Regardless, the book picks up momentum toward the middle, as the chapters—one for each day the boys have been away at college thus far—shorten and the boys deal with very adult issues. Together, the group of friends, which grows to include a few beloved girls, navigates the ups and downs of college, teamwork, illness and even death. For any reader who’s played soccer at a school dominated by football, this shot on goal scores.

An idyllic tale of the pitfalls and positives of growing up.

Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1475928785
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: iUniverse
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1st, 2013


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