Crackback

Crackback

4.1 42
by John Coy
     
 

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When Miles Manning, a successful high school football player, discovers his teammates are using steroids--and one of them is his best friend--he's faced with a tough decision: Is he willing to do what it takes to win? Football is his life, and his family, especially his dad, is pinning its hopes on him. It's a lot of pressure for a high school junior to bear.… See more details below

Overview


When Miles Manning, a successful high school football player, discovers his teammates are using steroids--and one of them is his best friend--he's faced with a tough decision: Is he willing to do what it takes to win? Football is his life, and his family, especially his dad, is pinning its hopes on him. It's a lot of pressure for a high school junior to bear. This gripping look into the world of high school boys and athletes--and their struggle to be the best--is provocative and searingly honest.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Booklist 9/1/05
*STAR* Coy, John. Crackback. Nov. 2005. 208p. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-69733-6).
Gr. 8-11. Sophomore football star Miles is excited about his strong team's chances in the new season. Then his favorite coach resigns, and Miles chafes under the new coach, who favors phrases such as, “This isn't a democracy. This is a dictatorship, and I'm the Dick.” Miles feels alienated from his teammates at school, who have turned to steroids, and also at home, with his angry father. In his first novel, the author of numerous picture books, including Strong to the Hoop (1998), writes a moving, nuanced portrait of a teen struggling with adults who demand, but don't always deserve, respect. A subplot involving a school assignment about family roots and the Middle Passage feels somewhat patched on, but Coy connects the story's diverse elements–family secrets, his father's rages and homophobia, a burgeoning romance, football, and shifting friendships–in a loose jumble that, like Miles' strong first-person voice, is sharply authentic, open ended, and filled with small details that signify larger truths. For another powerful look as the emotional lives of male teens athletes, suggest A.M. Jenkins' Damage (2001). – Gillian Engberg

Kirkus 11/1/05
Miles is excited about his junior-year football season. He knows the sport, loves playing defense and even though his father can be overbearing, he's taught Miles basic skills and how to play smart and to respect the coach. Zach, who has been Miles's best friend and teammate, is transforming himself, now. He's not just bulking up, but passing out uppers and advocating shooting up steroids as something all players do. When the regular coach steps aside, belligerent inexperienced Coach Stahl takes over and Miles has to consider carefully how important is the sport to him and how much he wants to risk. Coy obviously knows the gridiron and uses crackback, a football term meaning a block coming from the outside and behind, to symbolize all the ways sudden changes or surprises in life can throw you for a loop. Coy makes fun of the stupid clichés that surround the sport while maintaining a strong love of the game, managing to integrate girlfriends, serious social history and family dynamics seamlessly. Most of the recent quality sports fiction has focused on basketball or wrestling, which makes this extra welcome. (Fiction. YA)

SLJ 12/1/05
COY, John. Crackback. 206p. CIP. Scholastic. 2005. Tr $16.99. ISBN 0-439-69733-6. LC 2004030972.
Gr 7 Up–Coy takes the topic of football and weaves it in and out of other conflicts typical of teenage boys such as father/son relationships, girls, steroids, and realizing that there is more to life than just the game. Miles is a likable and talented player who tries to please everyone: coaches, his father, his teachers, and the girl he is interested in. Regardless of his efforts or his talents, he can't seem to satisfy his coach and winds up on the bench where he meets, and likes, the second-string players who have lives outside of football–something that has never occurred to Miles or his father. In addition, he refuses to take steroids, even though his teammates do. Through his struggles with his coach and his dad, he begins to learn that life is complicated and that answers don't always come in the form of X's and O's. The family secret that drives his father, the interesting girl who shows him that the world is a big place, and the intense, sometimes unbelievable coach who teaches him that you can't please some people, no matter what, give Miles a new, perhaps healthier, perspective. Boys will appreciate the well rounded characters and the plot that mixes sports with real life. It doesn't hurt that there is some great football action throughout.–Julie Webb, Shelby County High School, Shelbyville, KY

Voice of Youth Advocates
(December 1, 2005; 0-439-69733-6; 978-0-

KLIATT
An excellent football story by a newcomer to the field of YA fiction; Coy has written children's books in the past and teaches writing "in schools across the country." Miles plays high school football, enjoying the game, but anxious about pleasing his demanding father and the abusive coach, and about avoiding the steroids pushed on him by his teammates. Nothing evolves like usual sports stories. In fact, Miles is placed on the bench, the team is a failure, and he makes some new friends who don't take football so seriously. The tension in his family becomes explosive, and finally secrets are revealed and the family dynamics are improved—Miles's mother is wonderful and his father finally opens up. Miles's interest in history grows, as does his interest in a smart new student, Lucia. Every reader is going to love Miles for his humor, his talent, and intelligence. Coy controls the story with great wit and talent himself and we look forward to his future work. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2005, Scholastic, 206p., Ages 12 to 18.
—Claire Rosser
Children's Literature - Jillian Hurst
Miles Manning, a junior at Confluence High School and a star on the football team, is not unpopular but his involvement on the football team definitely defines his place at Confluence. Miles faces many issues that relate to all high school students. He has trouble fitting in with friends, longs for an ideal body, cannot figure out which girl to ask to the homecoming dance, and gets in typical arguments with his parents. But Miles encounters other conflicts that often remain hidden in adolescent literature—carefully kept family secrets, deliberate peer pressure to use drugs, and crude discrimination. Miles' closest friends pressure him, his father ignores him, and his coach disrespects him, all which make Miles' attempts to figure out who he is even more difficult. Although Coy depicts an impeccable creation of the secretive thoughts of a teenage boy, he attempts to cover too many personal and relational issues for any one of them to make a significant impact. This book may not be a timeless story, but it offers an honest representation of the dynamics of high school in the 21st century. Reviewer: Jillian Hurst
Children's Literature
Miles Manning knows how to tackle football opponents, but life's unexpected crackbacks (like that immobilizing maneuver players do not see coming) catch him off guard. He aspires for Confluence High's team to win the conference championship and go to the state playoffs. He also hopes to achieve individual honors for his defensive skills. Miles realizes his football talents help attract attention from college scouts offering scholarships and popular girls seeking prestigious boyfriends. He balances practice and work, all the while enduring his controlling father (a former player who orders Miles to obey his coaches) and punitive Coach Stahl (who chastises Miles for thinking not reacting on the field). Miles blunders during a crucial game enabling the rival team to score a winning touchdown. As a result he is demoted to the second string, blocking him from achieving his goals. Miles' hedonistic friend, Zach, offers him performance-enhancing drugs, which disillusioned Miles contemplates taking when his identity as a starting player disintegrates. Miles befriends enigmatic classmate, Lucia, and delves into history teacher, Mr. Halloran's, immigration assignment. From this he begins to understand how past events have shaped his life and he strengthens his resolve to withstand unfair attacks and situations. Teenage culture is depicted accurately, showing Miles struggling with his peers' opinions. The steroids subplot is not fully developed and lacks significant resolution or repercussions readers might expect based on foreshadowing. Read with A.M. Jenkins' Damage (2001), and Chris Lynch's Inexcusable (2005), to discuss how families, coaches, fans, drugs, and drinking affectteenage athletes. 2005, Scholastic, Ages 12 up.
—Elizabeth D. Schafer
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-Coy takes the topic of football and weaves it in and out of other conflicts typical of teenage boys such as father/son relationships, girls, steroids, and realizing that there is more to life than just the game. Miles is a likable and talented player who tries to please everyone: coaches, his father, his teachers, and the girl he is interested in. Regardless of his efforts or his talents, he can't seem to satisfy his coach and winds up on the bench where he meets, and likes, the second-string players who have lives outside of football-something that has never occurred to Miles or his father. In addition, he refuses to take steroids, even though his teammates do. Through his struggles with his coach and his dad, he begins to learn that life is complicated and that answers don't always come in the form of X's and O's. The family secret that drives his father, the interesting girl who shows him that the world is a big place, and the intense, sometimes unbelievable coach who teaches him that you can't please some people, no matter what, give Miles a new, perhaps healthier, perspective. Boys will appreciate the well rounded characters and the plot that mixes sports with real life. It doesn't hurt that there is some great football action throughout.-Julie Webb, Shelby County High School, Shelbyville, KY Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Miles is excited about his junior-year football season. He knows the sport, loves playing defense and even though his father can be overbearing, he's taught Miles basic skills and how to play smart and to respect the coach. Zach, who has been Miles's best friend and teammate, is transforming himself, now. He's not just bulking up, but passing out uppers and advocating shooting up steroids as something all players do. When the regular coach steps aside, belligerent inexperienced Coach Stahl takes over and Miles has to consider carefully how important is the sport to him and how much he wants to risk. Coy obviously knows the gridiron and uses crackback, a football term meaning a block coming from the outside and behind, to symbolize all the ways sudden changes or surprises in life can throw you for a loop. Coy makes fun of the stupid cliches that surround the sport while maintaining a strong love of the game, managing to integrate girlfriends, serious social history and family dynamics seamlessly. Most of the recent quality sports fiction has focused on basketball or wrestling, which makes this extra welcome. (Fiction. YA)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780439697330
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
11/28/2005
Pages:
208
Sales rank:
229,671
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.90(d)
Lexile:
490L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

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