Friday, February 5, 2016

The Extra Yard


                                            The Extra Yard - Lupica, Mike


The Extra Yard
by Mike Lupica
Simon & Schuster, 2016.  292 pgs. Fiction

     Teddy Madden is a bit of a schlub until his friend Jack takes him in hand, helps him get into shape, and then finds him a spot as a catcher on his school's baseball team. But Teddy wants to play football. He makes the team on the strength of a one-handed grab in the end zone at tryouts and surrounded by friends Jack, Gus, and Cassie he looks forward to a great football season with the Walton Wildcats. But then his long-absent father shows up. His friends tell him to stop hating on the man, and Teddy makes progress until his Dad (a former quarterback) shows up on the sidelines and starts coaching. Predictably, the starting quarterback (Jack) goes out for the season with a shoulder separation, and Teddy steps in at quarterback, only to discover that his father actually has some good ideas. The team goes undefeated into the championship game, where things turn out a little differently than one might expect, but all's well that ends well, nevertheless.  I am a big Mike Lupica fan - his books, including this one, are filled with likable characters wise beyond their years and excellent descriptions of skills, games, and tactics. "The Extra Yard" is a little unsettling, however, because with our growing understanding of the consequences of playing football, especially for young people, it seems a little off that Lupica revels in the violence of the game, and encourages his readers to follow Teddy's example of not being afraid to "play hurt." Young sports fans and football players will love this book; their parents maybe not so much.  Plus Teddy's dad really is a cluck.

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