Author: Mike Lupica
My Rating: ***
Official Rating: Children's Fiction
Age Group: 10+
Summary: Jake is a Cullen. His dad was the starting quarterback in high school and college, and his older brother is following in that path. Jake's a freshman now, and he's expected to do what Cullens do. Only, Jake is starting to feel like he's trapped in a shadow. If his dad wants his brother to be like his dad, and then wants Jake to be like his brother, he's already stuck under two shadows. Then, on top of all that, Jake isn't the starting quarterback. Casey is, and has definitely waited his turn for the position. That's just one more shadow to live under--another shadow adding to the disappointment those around Jake seem to feel about him.
But what about Jake's shadow? Does he have a say in how he's going to live?
Word of Warning
- Jake's father plays favorites and it takes him a long time to admit it. He does everything but demand that Jake be just like his older brother, and, when the older brother has a game, Jake's father misses Jake's game. Jake and his mom even suggest they remind his father that he has two sons.
- There is some arguing, often between Jake and the other quarterback. At one point, it is suggested this will come to blows, but never does.
- Teasing between friends.
- A brief kiss.
- A boy destroys his ACL during a game and is helped off the field, never to return (he lives, obviously, but doesn't play the rest of the season). There isn't a whole lot of detail, only that he falls, and starts screaming. That's pretty much the last we hear of him.
- Jake gets a concussion but he thinks he's fine so we don't get a whole lot of drama out of it.
- Lupica usually has a great balance of choppy (but semi-realistic) dialogue and more complete dialogue. In this book, it's all choppy.
- Lupica is known by my sister and I as having parent characters who are only parents biologically. As in, they talk just like the kids, and they're interested in being the kids' friends, not their parents, and in having fun, like the kids. The problem isn't as big in this book as it usually is, but it's still there.
- Sarah seems to be in love with Jake's brother, then with Casey, then with Jake. Does she only fall for the starting quarterback? It's hard to tell how she feels, and when she does finally settle, it's hard to trust (or even like) her. She's basically a flat character. Sort of like a name on a popsicle stick, if that makes any sense.
- Jake's father is immature and never truly admits that. It's suggested that he may know it, and he does take a step toward fixing the problem of favoring a son, but he doesn't actually admit to his mistake.
Alright, you caught me. I like reading football stories, complete with well described games and everything in-between. This story was no different. It was exciting, had a pinch of character development (even though the entire thing was supposed to be about that, it really had a lot to do with just the game), and was Lupica all over again. By that I mean choppy dialogue, great guy character friendships, good laughs, and great sports action.
That's what I expect from a book like this--and that's what I got.