Thursday, July 28, 2011


LeverageAt Danny’s high school, football is king. The other male athletic teams (gymnastics and cross country running) are not just picked on and hassled by the football players, but are physically bullied and abused. Danny and the other gymnasts try to keep their heads down and remain unnoticed.
When big guy Kurt is recruited to their football team, the rest of the school are certain he is as dumb as he looks and, thanks to his stutter, sounds. Yet no one cares as long as he keeps them on a path to championship stardom. When he realizes what his teammates are doing to the smaller athletes, Kurt must choose between keeping quiet and staying part of the team or standing up for those who have shown him real friendship.

Told in chapters alternating between the two athletes, this is a sports novel that is about much more than sports. It is about trust, friendship, family…and about doing what is right.

I had a hard time getting into this book, mostly due my lack of experience of extreme hazing. Trust me; this is something that I am very content in not experiencing. I was also resisting reading this novel because I am not a fan of typical sports novels. However, once I sat down and allowed myself to get past page sixteen, I found this novel to be a hard-hitting tale about life. Yes, sports play a role in the story, but more of a backdrop to the real tale.

The narrative is well crafted. You are transported into the scenes: cliff diving and rock climbing with one group of guys and hunting with another; flipping on the high bar with Danny and rushing across the football field with Kurt; hiding in the storage room with one teen and trapped in a box with another.

One of the positive attributes of this novel is also one that I didn’t like. Perhaps that is also what makes it such a strong narrative. As I said, this is a hard-hitting story. The abuse and violence that happens is, at times, graphic and very hard to read. The bullying between the football players and the other male athletes begins early – page fifteen. While I didn’t like these aspects of this novel, I think that they are also part of what makes it work.

The cover of this novel is very striking, grabbing your attention and illustrating elements of the story. The stark white front cover: a muscular and veined fisted arm in the air. The title on the front and side: the first four letters in brown, the last four (RAGE) in red. The back cover: an extreme close-up of a football.

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