Synopses & Reviews
In a small Oklahoma town, one star linebacker must decide what kind of man he wants to be--both on and off the field.
Welcome to Kennisaw--where Friday night high school football ranks right up there with God and country, and sometimes even comes in first. This year, the Kennisaw Knights are going for their fifth straight undefeated season, and if they succeed, they'll be more than the best high school team in the eastern Oklahoma hill country--they'll be legends.
But the Knights' legacy is a heavy weight to carry for Hampton, linebacker and star of the team. On the field, he's so in control you'd think he was able to stop time. But his life off the field is a different story. His father walked out on him and his mom years ago, and now his mom has a new boyfriend every week. He's drawn to a smart, quirky girl at school--the type a star athlete just isn't supposed to associate with. And meanwhile, his best friend and teammate Blaine--the true friend who first introduced Hampton to football back when he had nothing else--is becoming uncomfortably competitive, and he's demanding Hampton's loyalty even as Hampton thinks he's going too far.
This unforgettable novel is the story of a boy whose choices will decide the kind of man he becomes, and raises powerful questions about sportsmanship, loyalty, and the deceptiveness of legends.
Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist -- a fat high school journalist named Mitch -- veteran sports novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel. When Angel shows up Lincoln High, he seems to have no past -- or at least not one he is willing to discuss. Though Mitch gets a glimpse of Angel's incredible talent off the field, Angel rarely allows himself to shine on the field. Is he an undercover cop, wonders Mitch? Or an ineligible player? In pursuit of a killer story, Mitch decides to find out just who this player is and what he's done. In the end, the truth -- and what Mitch does with it -- surprises everyone.
About the Author
Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist -- a fat high school journalist named Mitch -- veteran sports novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel. When Angel shows up Lincoln High, he seems to have no past -- or at least not one he is willing to discuss. Though Mitch gets a glimpse of Angel's incredible talent off the field, Angel rarely allows himself to shine on the field. Is he an undercover cop, wonders Mitch? Or an ineligible player? In pursuit of a killer story, Mitch decides to find out just who this player is and what he's done. In the end, the truth -- and what Mitch does with it -- surprises everyone."The game action alone is riveting even for readers who dont know a naked bootleg from a hook-and-ladder play, but Deuker enriches the tale with several welltuned subplots and a memorable narrator/protagonist who turns a corner on his own self-image while weathering brutal tests of his courage and determination. Definitely one for the top shelf."Booklist, starred review
"Told in the first person, the story is initially funny, but the humor is soon eclipsed by the suspenseful plot and the copious play-by-play football action. These elements work together to create a rousing climax, which is then followed by a softer and more reflective denouement. Nicely played. "Kirkus Reviews
"Deuker has crafted another entertaining and readable football story. The game descriptions are well done and will appeal to players and fans. Many teens who dreamed of being a star as children but don't make the team in high school will identify with Mitch." School Library Journal
"A strong football story with nail-biting action and intrigue and a strong, appealing protagonist."VOYA
"It's a solid Cooneyesque mystery/thriller, though, with enough straight-up gridiron action to draw a crowd, and it won't take much booktalking to sell middle-schoolers on this title."The Bulletin
An IRA 2009 Young Adult ChoiceTexas Lone Star 2009 list
"Riveting" The Bulletin
"An eye-opening recommendation to all budding athletes." VOYA
"A superb sports novel with no easy resolutions." Kirkus Reviews Runner
A Booklist Top Ten Sports Book
A VOYA Top Shelf Fiction for Middle School Readers
Nominated as YA book of the Year in Texas "Deuker fans won't be disappointed."The Bulletin
"Suspenseful and involving. . . . Chance's dilemmas will quickly draw in readers and keep them turning the pages." Kliatt "Sinister goings-on, a murder, last minute heroism, and a new life rich with possibility make this a satisfying read." Kirkus Reviews High Heat
A Booksense 76 Pick
A Booklist Top 10 Youth Sports BookWinner of the Golden Sower Award "High Heat joins the Deuker canon with yet another fine study of a conflicted soul whose ethical salvation is determined in a sporting arena." The Bulletin "Good baseball books are in short supply for teens; do not let this one slip past." VOYA
An ALA Best Book (star) "An excellent novel." School Library Journal "Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sports writing matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories." Kirkus Reviews Heart of a Champion
YA book of the Year in Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Tennessee. Paperback edition available from Little, Brown.Painting the Black
A Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books Blue Ribbon Winner
An ALA Best Book
(star) "It ain't pretty, but it's real." TheBulletin
"The well-written sports scenes will draw readers, but it is Ryan's moral courage that will linger when the reading is done." Booklist Carl Deuker is widely considered a "premier author of provocative YA sports novels" includingGym Candy,named a Texas Lone Star title, andRunner,a Booklist Top 10 Sports Book. His characters are high school athletes with differing abilities, ambitions, and psychological baggage, but their stories all unfold within the sports that they choose to play. Far from being just a hinge upon which to hang a plot, sports in Deuker's novels serve as a central metaphor for the complicated process of growing up. He lives in Seattle, WA, with his wife and daughter. www.membersauthorsguild.net/carldeuker