Review of Hit Count

lynch_hit countHit Count
by Chris Lynch
High School   Algonquin   362 pp.
5/15   978-1-61620-250-7   $17.95   g
e-book ed. 978-1-61620-490-7   $17.95

As a lowly freshman, junior varsity football player Arlo Brodie sets his future goals: varsity linebacker by sophomore year, then college ball for a Division One team, then the pros. After freshman year, Arlo works out like a fiend, gets in super shape, makes varsity, and plays like a man possessed, hitting, blocking, tackling — all of the hard contact that he craves and has been preparing for. And he becomes a god on the gridiron, proud of his new nickname, Starlo, and proud of what he’s accomplished. His fame comes at a price: an alarmingly high hit count, or number of hard blows to his head, forces the coach to bench him. By that point, though, the adulation, the workouts, and the thrill of sanctioned combat have become Arlo’s drug, and he’s addicted. A parallel story of Arlo’s equally combative older brother plateauing out of football just as Starlo begins to shine, but finding his place when Arlo’s fame fades, crowds the narrative. Still, this unflinching examination of the price of athletic power, with plenty of bone-crunching play-by-play action, is both thought-provoking and formidable.

From May/June 2015 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Betty Carter
Betty Carter, an independent consultant, is professor emerita of children’s and young adult literature at Texas Woman’s University.

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