Like Heat, Game Changers introduces us to a hero so likable, that you find yourself in his corner early in the book. Ben McBain is a born quarterback: he loves football, he's understands the game, sees the entire field when he plays, he's quick, he's strong, and he brings his teammates together. Unfortunately, Ben is also much smaller than the usual quarterback, which means that few of the coaches or grownups see him as a natural for that position. Instead of whining about his luck, Ben plays smarter and he works harder than everyone else. Fortunately, he lives right next to a field which he and his three closest friends have dubbed McBain Field for all the hours they've spent there over the years.
The book opens with a new football season starting. Ben McBain is better than ever and he's excited for tryouts. Their new coach O'Brien is a superstar in his own right - he played for the NFL and cares about the kids. Unfortunately for Ben, the coach's son Shawn O'Brien is trying out for quarterback too. Shawn is bigger, stronger, and is a shoe-in for the position.
Invariably, Shawn becomes the starting quarterback. When Shawn plays well, he excels. But in tough times, Shawn gets nervous, he worries too much, and somehow he loses his game. Ben's friends see this as an opportunity for Ben to take over. But Shawn reaches out to Ben for his help and Ben soon finds himself spending his free time helping Shawn become a better quarterback. Shawn's sworn Ben to secrecy about their extra sessions. How much of a good guy does Ben have to be?
When can Ben finally tell his good friends what's going on? And can Ben ever use what he's learned to win the quarterback position for himself?
In Game Changers, Lupica puts Ben McBain through the wringer. Somehow, hard work, decency, and friends make things work out for the team, for Ben and even for Shawn. Game Changers combines football, friendship, loyalty, and a good story. I recommend it!
ISBN-10: 0545381827 - Hardcover $16.99
Publisher: Scholastic Press (May 8, 2012), 224 pages.
Review copy courtesy of Amazon Vine and the publisher.
About the Author:
Mike Lupica is one of the most prominent sports writers in America. He began his newspaper career covering the New York Knicks for the New York Post at age 23. He became the youngest columnist ever at a New York paper with the New York Daily News, which he joined in 1977. For more than 30 years, Lupica has added magazines, novels, sports biographies, other non-fiction books on sports, as well as television to his professional resume. For the past fifteen years, he has been a TV anchor for ESPN's The Sports Reporters. He also hosted his own program, The Mike Lupica Show on ESPN2. In addition, he has written a number of novels, including Dead Air, Extra Credits, Limited Partner, Jump, Full Court Press, Red Zone, Too Far and national bestsellers Wild Pitch and Bump and Run. His previous young adult novels, Travel Team, Heat, Miracle on 49th Street, and the summer hit for 2007, Summer Ball, have shot up the New York Times bestseller list. Lupica is also what he describes as a "serial Little League coach," a youth basketball coach, and a soccer coach for his four children, three sons and a daughter. He and his family live in Connecticut.