Weaver (Striking Out, 1993) begins his novel in black and white, swiftly setting up a Dickensian network of coldness and cruelty around Billy, 13. An outsider at school, but a good ball player, Billy has no time for baseball, especially when his violent father goes to jail for vandalizing a used car lot. Billy is at the center of a series of conflicts: with the baseball team; with his father; with the law; with farmwork. Just when the story seems headed toward melodrama, Weaver gives us something completely different. Instead of unfolding tragically and rigidly, the plot starts meandering, almost systematically blurring the brutal first impressions, and gradually transforming dramatic conflict into logical contradiction. In the process, both readers and characters get a lot more comfortable. No one has to witness or dwell on Billy's suffering; he simply goes around giving everybody the finger. The desolate farm becomes familiar, people become friendly. Weaver totally unhinges the action from the emotional landscape in which it opened and then lyrically ties everything together: Billy and his mother start their own baseball team, build a field on the farm, and beat the Town Team. From conflict to contradiction and from contradiction to understanding, the narrative pulls readers along, every event staged with precision. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: June 30, 1995

ISBN: 0-06-023588-8

Page Count: 284

Publisher: HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1995

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Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage.


Louisiana high school football star Russell Boudreaux chooses to take a stand.

NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick captured the world’s attention by kneeling during the national anthem to bring attention to police brutality against Black Americans. His courageous actions, which resulted in his expulsion from professional football, galvanized a generation of Black athletes to use athletic platforms to spotlight social injustice. This novel draws on this context to weave a tale about two up-and-coming Black high school football players trying to make the most of their final season and escape the harsh realities of their hometown lives. Russell is the Jackson High Jaguars’ formidable tight end, unstoppable when paired with his best friend and game-changing quarterback, Marion. Yet, when White players from well-off rival Westmond incite a fight during a game using racial epithets, Marion must deal with the unjust consequences of biased policing that not only land him off the team, but possibly in jail. Even worse, one of the officers involved was reassigned following the unprosecuted police murder of a Black boy in nearby Shreveport. For Gabby, Russell’s love interest and self-proclaimed intersectional feminist, this requires a courageous stand—but facing up to injustice brings unforeseen consequences; readers must navigate the complex ethics that inform a principled activist stance. Debut author Buford delivers a novel that bridges the mighty dreams of Last Chance Uwith the trenchant social critique of The Hate U Give.

Sports’ biggest social movement moment of the decade gets a special homage. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 14, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-335-40251-6

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Review Posted Online: July 8, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2021

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Dare-devil mountain-climber Peak Marcello (14), decides to scale the Woolworth Building and lands in jail. To save him, his long-lost Everest-trekking dad appears with a plan for the duo to make a life in Katmandu—a smokescreen to make Peak become the youngest person in history to summit Mount Everest. Peak must learn to navigate the extreme and exotic terrain but negotiate a code of ethics among men. This and other elements such as the return of the long-lost father, bite-size chunks of information about climbing and altitude, an all-male cast, competition and suspense (can Peak be the youngest ever to summit Everest, and can he beat out a 14-year-old Nepalese boy who accompanies him?) creates the tough stuff of a “boys read.” The narrative offers enough of a bumpy ride to satisfy thrill seekers, while Peak’s softer reflective quality lends depth and some—but not too much—emotional resonance. Teachers will want to pair this with Mark Pfetzer’s Within Reach: My Everest Story (1998). (Fiction. 12-15)

Pub Date: May 1, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-15-202417-8

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2007

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