Taking a break from all of the dystopian/government-gone-mad books, I just finished Payback Time by Carl Deuker.
This is the story of high school football, but thankfully it’s not your traditional sports story. It’s not about a plucky underdog who finds friends because he throws the winning touchdown. The protagonist is Daniel True, although his school nickname is Mitch because students think he looks like the Michelin Man. While Daniel does fight his weight issue, that is not the focus of the book. It simply adds depth of character.
Daniel is a talented reporter for his school’s newspaper. When he’s passed over for the editor position, he is taken from the front page and relegated to the sports page. He realizes that, for a high school paper, most students only read the sports articles. Daniel, though, wants to crack a big story and thinks he may have found one when a star transfer student is on the team but is kept a strict secret. Daniel thinks it may be a cover-up, that the student is ineligible to play and the coach is using him only for key plays.
Deuker knows sports and lists off the play-by-plays during the game scenes. Normally that would be distracting, but since the main character is trying to get as many details as possible, it fits the character. It also makes the book appealing for students who love sports.
The mystery of the transfer student is the focus of the story and is developed well over the course of the book. I don’t want to give too many details because I did change my opinion periodically as I read as to whether the coach was guilty, the transfer student was guilty, or if Daniel was jumping to conclusions.
This is the perfect time of year to put Payback Time out for students to read. Grab a copy. Also pick up Heart of a Champion by Deuker if you don’t have it yet.