Dial Books, 2011, 256 pp.
Listed as YA, but I think it’s middle grade
The good stuff
- Boy appeal – A boy protagonist, teamwork on the soccer field, best pal, older brother, male role model in the form of a soccer hero, and preparing for bar mitzvah – what more could a boy reader ask for?
- Ability for a kid to relate – The relationship between Ari and his best friend Mac is put to the test when female player Parker makes the team; the relationship between Ari and his older brother Sam, who left home
- Coming of age – Tests all Ari’s assumptions, including his assumptions about himself and his need for horoscopes, good omens, and lucky trading cards
- Pathos – I cried twice, but I can’t tell you when or I’d give the plot away. Crying is good.
The not-so-good stuff
- Everything here but the kitchen sink – Relationship with self, relationship with parents, relationship with older brother, relationship with best bud, relationship with girl soccer player, relationship with soccer hero, OCD tendencies, preparing for bar mitzvah…the list goes on and on. Was it all necessary?
- Obvious statements, usually at the end of the chapter
- Some terms seem too mature – e.g., obsessive, mantra
- Believability – Ari’s 180-degree transformation seems too stark
- If you’re not into soccer, you can get lost in the game scenes and there are a lot of them
- At times, I felt that I was not reading the voice of a twelve-year-old, but the mother of one
I really wanted to like this book and it is indeed likeable. Boys will enjoy it and girls will like reading it, too.
4.0 of 5.0