Monday, August 31, 2015

STICK by Michael Harmon

Let me start with the fact I have never read a book by Michael Harmon that I didn't like so I was excited to see his latest book on a recent trip to the bookstore.

Brett "Stick" and Preston have absolutely nothing in common.  Stick is a senior making plans for his future, hopefully at UCLA playing football.  Preston is a freshman and definitely not an athlete.  Their paths cross the day Stick witnesses several of his teammates bullying young Preston.  Witnessing raw eggs drop on the head of the skinny ninth grader as the football heroes crack up is a sight Stick can't get out of his mind.

Known as the best high school wide receiver in the state, Stick grew up loving football, but his passion for the game is waning.  His demanding coach, his obsessed father, and never-ending workouts have him questioning whether he should continue.  When Coach confronts him about his failing grade in math, the pressure is almost too much. 

Preston offers to tutor Stick, but the football star has already made a decision about his future in the game.  When Stick quits, he feels the wrath of both his father and his coach.  They insist that he is throwing away his life and don't care about the feelings that are behind his decision.

As Stick works through his football frustrations, he learns that others who surround him have their own demons and the ability to share the pain with someone who cares can sometimes make the suffering a bit easier.  Stick is empowered when he begins to understand what motivates people like his father, his coach, and his new friend Preston.

Author Michael Harmon's talent takes readers right into the hearts of his characters.  I cheered, laughed, gasped, and booed as I connected to the well-developed personalities of characters I either loved or hated.  STICK will not have time to collect even a particle of dust on the shelf in my classroom.  Can't wait to share it with my students.

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