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KNIGHTS OF THE HILL COUNTRY by Tim Tharp Kirkus Star

KNIGHTS OF THE HILL COUNTRY

By Tim Tharp

Age Range: 14 & up

Pub Date: Aug. 22nd, 2006
ISBN: 0-375-83653-5
Publisher: Knopf

The Kennishaw Knights personify Oklahoma hill country, where guys play football, drink beer, talk about sex (but not love), and players seek local immortality by achieving a fifth straight undefeated season. Tharp unveils the anger, frustration and uncertainty covered up by the Knights’ swagger. Star linebacker Hampton Green is a force on the field but finds himself kowtowing to Blaine, the team’s cocky running back. Narrating the story, Hampton feels like Blaine’s henchman, someone there to carry out the boss’s erratic orders. Loyalty prevents him from distancing himself from his lifelong friend. Blaine, desperately pursuing glory and playing George to Hampton’s Lenny, charges into reckless decisions assuming Hampton will always have his back. Jealousy, rage and tenderness are wrapped around the story’s core theme of self-discovery. An excess of down-home similes (“squirming like a bunch of copperheads on hot asphalt”) is a minor drawback. However, this intriguing work demands an audience. (Fiction. YA)