HarperCollins, 2008 (2008)
Reviewed by J. A. Kaszuba Locke
s twelve-year old Ty Lewis enters his new school, Coach V encourages him to try out for the football team. Ty is a fast runner who's wanted an opportunity to show his speed on the field as a wide receiver. Older brother Thane, attending Syracuse University, was drafted and signed for the New York Jets with a multi-million dollar contract. Ever since mom and dad died in an auto accident, Ty has been living with Uncle Gus, Aunt Virginia, and their daughter Charlotte, in a small out-of-the-way trailer with cinder blocks as steps. He has to pull down a mattress in the laundry room to sleep and use an outdoor porta-potty.
y takes each day as it comes. His hopes for football at school are squashed by Uncle Gus as he hands Ty his birthday gift - a work permit allowing Ty to help Uncle in the
, Slatz's Cleaning Services. Ty and Charlotte will be working after school until midnight. When they arrive at one client's facility, Lucy's Bar, they are introduced to its owner, mean-tempered, crowbar-toting Lucy. Charlotte informs Ty that Uncle Gus is a gambler who owes Lucy money. Usually-quiet Charlotte surprises Ty when she stands up to bullies on her cousin's behalf, especially when they learn what Ty has been cleaning after school.
ncle Gus has ideas for the money Thane will be making, such as setting up a sports bar, but decisions need to go through Thane's agent Morty. Big man gambler Lucy comes up with the idea of
and uses Ty to question Thane weekly about '
'. Ty becomes a pawn who has to lie to his brother about why he is asking questions. Ty is helped by recalling Thane's brotherly advice: '
What makes you a football player is getting up after you get knocked down, or going out to catch another pass after you just dropped one. The harder the hit, or the worse the drop, the more important it is to keep going. That's the game. If you can't do that, then you shouldn't play.
im Green, who played for the Atlanta Falcons and also wrote
, plays out the characters and plot in
smoothly. He creates a rambunctious romp, heading towards an ending that can be likened to a spinning football in the air. The book includes information on football schematics, the method and pressure of the football draft, and football practice scenarios including agility drills, high stepping, backpedaling, shuffling, and crisscrossing. Readers will root for Ty all the way from the outfield to the backfield, and through everything in between.
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