Friday, December 13, 2019

Review of "The Underdogs," by Mike Lupica

Review of

The Underdogs, by Mike Lupica ISBN 9780545487863

Five out of five stars

 Lupica is currently the best writer of adolescent sports fiction and he proves it once again in this story. Will Tyler is an extremely fast and shifty running back, despite his small size, he is a major talent. Unfortunately, he lives in the town of Forbes, a city that is struggling financially after the primary employer closed their sneaker factory. The town council voted that they did not have the money to support the youth football team for middle school students this year, so Will and his friends have no hope of playing this year.

 Will’s father was also a very good football player in his youth, but a severe knee injury ended his career and he was one of the people who lost their job when the sneaker plant closed and while Will’s father provides for Will, there is significant resentment for the cards that they have been dealt.

 In a Hail Mary pass of another form, Will sends a letter to a sporting goods company, asking them if they would sponsor the team in the amount of $10,000. To everyone’s surprise, the CEO of the company agrees, and Will and his friends will be able to field a team. However, many families have left town seeking employment opportunities and at first, they can only find 10 guys willing to play.

 Following what is a common Lupica feature, there is a girl named Hannah that wants to play football and after some disagreement, everyone on the team accepts her presence. Hannah proves to be tough and resilient and her teammates stick up for her. When a defensive player hits her with a cheap shot, Will’s team calls a running play to that area and three players from Will’s team level the defensive player in an obvious payback message.

 Hannah is a strong and aggressive personality and an excellent kicker. With only eleven players, all members of the team must play the full game. Hannah is at first uncertain in making open field tackles, but she learns very quickly how to take down ball carriers.

 This is a very enjoyable sports book, for it is about more than just sports. It is about a community in general and some people in particular that manage to bury the difficulties that they face and rise up to have a successful season and show the world that Forbes is still a vibrant town with much to offer the residents. It is about community spirit and has a girl acting as an equal to the boys.

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