New Books Highlight: Playbook

Last week I featured three new books that take music as a central theme, a plot driver, a character changer. This week, let’s look at sports in that role. Sports books aren’t a huge genre. Besides the big names, Mike Lupica and Carl Deuker, there aren’t many authors that spring to mind. This fall, though, there have been several new releases featuring sports as a plot point and theme – not to mention the fact that I think they may be quintessential and classic sports stories! So if you love to read about your favorite sport – whether you play or not – pick these up.

Muckers by Sandra Neil WallaceMuckers by Sandra Neil Wallace

Publisher summary: “Felix O’Sullivan, standing in the shadow of his dead brother, an angry, distant father, and racial tension, must lead the last-ever Muckers high school football team to the state championship before a mine closing shuts down his entire town.” It’s a small-town story about a football team no one thinks will make it, based on a true story, written by a former ESPN sportscaster: what’s not to love?!

Sneak Peek! “I come to the shanty in the Barrio from behind, dipping under the broken shutters so the late-October moon won’t cast a shadow and wake up Cruz.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Sandra Neil Wallace)

The Pitcher by William HazelgroveThe pitcher

Maybe baseball stories are more your thing. Well then, Pitcher is a home-run for you. Ricky Hernandez dreams of being a pitcher and has done ever since he learned he had an arm while playing a carnival game. Thing is, now that he’s 14 and he’s got even more speed behind his pitches, he still has not learned to control the ball. He needs a chance and training, but he can’t afford it. He does have this reclusive neighbor, though, who is rumored to have been a big-shot MLB player, long-retired. Ricky’s mom wants nothing more than for Ricky to succeed, so she approaches their neighbor pleading for help; but she has no idea how much this will help them all, in the end.

Sneak Peek! “I never knew I had an arm until this guy calls out, ‘Hey, you want to try and get a ball in the hole, sonny?’” (Text copyright © 2013 by William Hazelgrove)

Second Impact by Perri Klass & David Klass

With all the recent coverage of the NFL’s head injury policies, or lack thereof, this is a particularly perfect book. Another football story, this time one that also features media scandals – high school paper style. The story is told in the form of emails and blog posts, making it a fast read. Jerry is the star quarterback, with all the drama that entails. When he’s thrown off the team after a drunk-driving incident, he thinks he’ll never get back into the world of sports. Enter, Carla, the high school paper’s star reporter. She recruits Jerry to work on a sports blog for the paper. Before he knows it, Jerry is deeply involved in Carla’s attempts to unearth a scandal surrounding head injuries sustained in contact sports at their school – something no one wants to hear as the school and town are poised for glory. It’s as dramatic as a perfectly timed interception when the team is down and needs to get on the board.

Sneak Peek! “On game day, I usually wake up very early and lie in bed thinking things over.” (Text copyright © 2013 by David Klass and Perri Klass)

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