Friday Night Lights. Football reigns supreme in this Texas community. Clay and his family live for the games he plays in, for the games they are glued to on television and for the religion of the sport itself.
Twelve-year old Clay can catch anything thrown in his vicinity. You throw it in his direction and you've got yards and maybe even a guaranteed TD. So, it comes as a real shock to Clay and his family when the day comes that Clay gets hit during a play and gets hit hard. When he gets up, he's shaken and as the game goes on, his fear of taking that kind of hit again, changes how he plays the game. He isn't his all out self. He doesn't want to take the chance.
Clay's coach, Monty, was a star for the Dallas Cowboys. He has a saying he tells all of his teams, "You can't play scared." Monty is pretty much a member of Clay's family. His mom is always inviting Coach over for dinner and they all really love the man. But Monty is starting to forget things... a lot of things. He forgets plays. He forgets names. He forgets where he is and how to get where he's going.
At the same time, Clay and the guys who play in his league are starting to hear about concussions and what they do to the football player brain. Is that what's happening to Monty? Has he been hit too many times?
The concussions begin to haunt Clay as he watches his teammates get hit hard enough to sustain a concussion. Will their brains change?
This is a powerful exploration of the culture of football. Mike Lupica planted this story in the heart of the football culture. He doesn't decide for you. He just puts it out there. Football registrations are starting to go down in the U.S. Not as many kids are choosing to play the sport or maybe not as many parents are choosing to have their children play the sport.
The story is filled with game situations, personal moments with Coach, a budding friendship/romance and a huge question. This family's life is completely absorbed by football. Who else are these boys when they aren't playing a game? What other skills do they have? What other facets of their personalities are being ignored? What is this game doing to their brains when they are 12 years old?
Bravo Mike Lupica. It's so important that we face this problem head-on at the grassroots level. If the boys don't show up to play, what else will they do with their lives? Is it worth the risk? Plenty of families are trying to figure this one out and this story is a great place to start the conversation.
240 pages 978-0399172809 Ages 10-15
Keywords: Difficult decisions
Recommended by: Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com
An uplifting story about role models, football, and tackling fear set in the heart of Friday Night Lights country—from the bestselling author of Heat, Travel Team, and Fantasy League. Clay is a quarterback's dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there's no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.
But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach--lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay's season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time--during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.
In Lone Stars, #1 New York Times bestseller Mike Lupica demonstrates once again that there is no children's sports novelist today who can match his ability to weave a story of vivid sports action and heartfelt emotion. A touching story that proves life is bigger than a game.--from the publisher