Salter proves adept at crafting a persuasive depiction of the college football life: the long bus trips, luxury apartments, and grueling practices offset by hours of weed and videogames. He’s especially good at the raucous camaraderie among the players, plus the thrill and terror of being jeered by thousands at away games. Eventually, the young players face tragedies, both surprising and perhaps inevitable, as Wally finds himself on the outs with the program over the kind of abuses that ruin real people’s lives—abuses that a nationally renowned championship football program would prefer to cover up.
Salter’s strong feeling for character, conflict, and compelling scenes keep the pages of this long novel turning, and his depiction of life inside the bubble of high-stakes college sports is compelling and mostly convincing. The tension mounts slowly, as Salter’s as invested in the texture of life as he is in suspense; readers open to a slow-burn with vivid, drawn-from-life detail will be rewarded.
Takeaway: This vividly told story of college football pits brothers against institutional abuses.
Great for fans of: Emily Nemens’s The Cactus League, Albert Samaha’s Never Ran, Never Will.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A