Tennison stands out as a slacker with a know-it-all attitude, smugly certain that he’s got it all figured out, but behind those pretenses is a young man with an abiding passion for football. Tennison’s desire to right his wrongs during the latter part of the story sends a powerful message to young readers: anyone can move past their mistakes, with a little humility, reform, and honesty. Readers will empathize with Tennison as they follow his journey and watch him learn to deal with his past decisions while fighting to become a better person, even if that means giving up what he loves the most. In his own words, “It wasn't fun getting knocked down. But I got up again.”
While Tennison’s decisions can be difficult to comprehend at times, Thompson’s story is well thought out and moving, and the overall message of being honest regardless of the cost is skillfully woven throughout, culminating in an explosive flare of truth-telling that lands Tennison back on the right path. Readers will be invested in Tennison’s outcome, whether that’s in his classes, on the football field, or at home, and ultimately his character trumps his mistakes.
Takeaway: An inspiring sports fiction that teaches the easy way isn’t always the best way.
Great for fans of: Randy Ribay’s After the Shot Drops and Kwame Alexander’s Rebound.
Design and typography: A-
Marketing copy: A