Hit Count

368p. ebook available. Algonquin. May 2015. Tr $17.95. ISBN 9781616202507; ebk. $17.95. ISBN 9781616204907.
Gr 9 Up—Arlo Brodie's devotion to football progresses throughout his high school years, even as evidence mounts that repeated head injuries are affecting him both cognitively and emotionally. In four sections that correspond to the four years of high school, Arlo describes the manner in which the sport gradually becomes an obsession, driving him to train incessantly and take ever greater risks in practice and games. He ignores the warnings of his mother, his girlfriend, and his own body until he is forced to confront his violent nature after grabbing his girlfriend during an argument in school. Comparisons are sure to be made with the author's groundbreaking Inexcusable (S. & S, 2005). Readers expecting the intense, concentrated focus of the earlier book, however, may be disappointed in this more diffuse effort, which features, for instance, a never-resolved subplot involving Arlo's jealousy of an older guy he thinks his girlfriend may be seeing. The novel also has some issues in terms of voice and narrative arc. In the first section, the 14-year-old Arlo comes across as entirely too erudite and sophisticated for a freshman, and the entire final section seems confusing as Arlo takes up boxing, of all things, to substitute for the football he has had to abandon because of his head trauma. His motivation for doing so is never sufficiently explained and the closing chapters are likely to leave readers scratching their heads.
VERDICT An intriguing work that raises troubling questions about the culture of violence in American high school sports.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing