Synopses & Reviews
When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn't know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with an older man. Charlie is a charismatic prankster—and the best football player Marcus has ever seen. He can't believe his good luck when he finds out that Charlie is actually Charlie Popovich, or "the King of Pop," as he had been nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker. But that's not all. There is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide.
When Marcus begins school, he meets the starting quarterback on the team: Troy Popovich. Right from the beginning, Marcus and Troy disagree—about football, about Troy's ex-girlfriend, Alyssa, but most of all about what's good for Charlie. Marcus is betting that he knows what's best for the King of Pop. And he is willing to risk everything to help his friend.
"Shortly after moving to a new town, Marcus encounters Charlie, a strange, middle-aged man who turns out to be an incredible football player. Marcus, hoping to be a varsity quarterback at his new school, begins meeting Charlie regularly. Charlie is a challenging and rewarding opponent, but there are mysteries about him that plague Marcus ('It was annoying, but waiting to see if Charlie was going to show up soon became Marcus's personal reality TV show'). Most puzzling: 'For some reason, he thought he was a teenager, too.' At school, Marcus loses the quarterback position to school hero Troy Charlie's son. Troy is oddly guarded about his father, but Marcus eventually figures out Charlie's secret: the repeated blows the former NFL player received resulted in early-onset Alzheimer's disease. Korman (The Juvie Three) skillfully weaves football terminology into the narrative without making it sound like a playbook, and Marcus's heartfelt loyalty to Charlie is believable, if the plotting is occasionally less so. Despite the athletic focus, this thought-provoking story is, at its core, about friendship and should have broad appeal. Ages 12 up. (Sept.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
About the Author
Gordon Korman has written more than fifty middle-grade and teen novels. Favorites include the #1 New York Times bestseller The 39 Clues: One False Note, Son of the Mob, and Schooled. Though he didn't play football in high school, Gordon's been a lifelong fan and season ticket holder. He says, "I've always been fascinated by the 'culture of collision' in football, and wanted to explore it—not just from the highlight films, but from its darker side as well." Gordon lives with his family on Long Island, New York.