Gus’s story is as sharply efficient as a swimmer’s strokes, brutal and serious where it counts. His self-aware narration lays bare his pitch-perfect teen tough attitude (“The only thing worse than having to talk about my feelings is listening to someone else pretend to understand them”) as well as his capacity for profound depth of feeling and insight into both sports and human nature (“Parents don’t like to face hard truths about the kids they love”). Readers will cheer him on as he learns to stop fighting himself and the people who are trying to help him.
The story belongs to Gus and only Gus; very little time is spent on description, and side characters exist to illuminate his personality and give him something to want or push against. Readers won’t mind spending so much time in his head, as the authors handle his complicated emotions with care and aplomb and keep the action moving through short, brisk chapters and vivid sensory descriptions. Like Gus, this punchy young adult novel is a winner.
Takeaway: Teen athletes longing to be seen as more than their trophies will cherish this young man’s journey of athletic success and personal healing.
Great for fans of Kwame Alexander’s Crossover series, Mike Lupica.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A