Rated 5 stars ***** ARC. Published September 6, 2016. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 329 p.
Brock Ripley is first to back away from conflicts, on the soccer field or off. He hates being gutless, but doesn’t know how to be brave. When he agrees to catch passes for Hunter Gates, the school’s star quarterback, his life becomes even more confusing as he tries to learn football and avoid getting hit on the field, hold off Hunter’s jealous former wide receiver, hide his father’s worsening sickness from his friends, and keep his friendship with Richie Fang.
Though Richie is a star soccer player, wins all types of competitions, is academically gifted, and a great jokester, his talents don’t include ways to stop riling Hunter. The angrier Hunter gets towards Richie, the more Brock retreats into his shell of avoidance. It is only a matter of time before Brock will have to learn how to get himself off the fence and onto the field of life before it’s too late.
This action packed book about football, bullying, true friendship, and learning to stand up for yourself is bound to pique the interest of readers – especially reluctant readers.
Recommended for ages 11-18.