Author: Gordon Korman
Summary: In the dead of summer, Marcus is uprooted by his mother and moved to the small town of Kennesaw. The one saving grace of the move is that Marcus will have the chance to try-out for the championship winning Raiders, the local high school football team. With dreams of making it on the team, Marcus heads to the local park every day to practice his quarterbacking skills. One day during his solitary practice, Marcus meets an older man, Charlie, who behaves a bit bizarrely but is the best football player Marcus has ever seen. Charlie teaches him to embrace the “pop” that comes from a good tackle and how to pull off some amazing pranks.
It isn’t until school starts that Marcus learns his new practice friend is Charlie Popovich or “The King of Pop” as he was nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker. Unfortunately, by that time Marcus has already clashed heads with the starting quarterback of the Raiders and son of Charlie, Troy Popovich. Troy wants Marcus to stay away from his Dad, his team, and his ex-girlfriend Alyssa. Marcus fights for his position on the team and keeps practicing with Charlie. But Marcus has figured out there is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide. Marcus wants to help his friend, but is he willing to risk everything to do it?
Who will like this?: While football is prominently featured in this story, a love of the game or even an understanding of it, isn’t necessary for enjoyment of the story. It is the characters of Marcus and Charlie that are truly the center of this story. There are serious issues presented in this book, but Korman injects some humor into the story.
If you like this, try this: Anything else by Gordon Korman or Mike Lupica
Recommended by: Jen, Fairfield Woods Branch Teen Librarian