Muckers

Muckers

4.0 2
by Sandra Neil Wallace
     
 

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Former ESPN sportscaster Sandra Neil Wallace makes her young adult debut with a historical fiction novel that School Library Journal recommends to fans of Friday Night Lights in a starred review.
 
Felix “Red” O’Sullivan’s world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of

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Overview

Former ESPN sportscaster Sandra Neil Wallace makes her young adult debut with a historical fiction novel that School Library Journal recommends to fans of Friday Night Lights in a starred review.
 
Felix “Red” O’Sullivan’s world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town and his high school with it. But Red’s got his own burdens to bear: his older brother, Bobby, died in the war, and he’s been struggling to follow in his footsteps ever since. That means assuming Bobby’s old position as quarterback and leading the last-ever Muckers team to the championship.
 
But the only way for the hardscrabble Muckers to win State is to go undefeated and tackle their biggest rival, Phoenix United, which would be something of a miracle. Luckily, miracles can happen all the time on the field.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
09/23/2013
Former ESPN newscaster and Little Joe author Wallace presents an unsettling yet inspiring novel, based on true events, about a racially mixed high-school football team’s last season. Set in the autumn of 1950 in the grim mining town of Hatley, Ariz., the story is narrated by quarterback Felix “Red” O’Sullivan, who carries too many burdens on his slight five-foot-seven frame: grief over his brother Bobby’s death at Iwo Jima five years earlier; sorrow over his mother’s resulting mental deterioration; resentment at his embittered father; and the weight of the “scrappy but undersized” Muckers’ final chance to win the state championship. With the mine nearly barren, Red’s graduating class will be the last for Hatley High. Wallace deftly depicts the atmosphere of an era when segregation—in Hatley, between Mexicans and “Anglos”—was standard, the Korean War had just begun, and anti-communism was on the rise. While football fans will savor the play-by play descriptions, Wallace provides enough emotional drama to create a rich work of historical fiction that will draw in even those without an interest in the sport. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
From the Publisher
THE BULLETIN, November 2013:
"Wallace makes [her characters] live and breathe through careful attention to the quotidian details of local geography and universal motivators—guilt, friendship, spite, encouragement, anger, and talent." 

Starred Review, School Library Journal, December 2013:
"… fans of H.G. Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights (Addison-Wesley, 1990) and other football histories will appreciate this inspiring tale.”

Kirkus Reviews
2013-09-15
An unlikely championship is within the grasp of a ragtag group of students just as the mine that supports their town prepares to close. Felix "Red" O'Sullivan is the best hope to lead his team to a statewide football championship. Unlike other teams in 1950 in Arizona, whites and Latinos play together on the Hartley Muckers. Nevertheless, both groups are aware of the dividing lines: separate Masses, different swimming times at the pool and limits on relationships across the racial divide. Red is also plagued by family difficulties: His father is an alcoholic, and his mother was hospitalized, broken with grief for her older son, who was killed in World War II. For Red, this season will be his last chance to return glory to "Bobby's school." It will be a struggle for a school with barely enough players, and whose field is littered with slag and rocks, to defeat bigger and better-equipped teams even as the town continues its inevitable demise. Based on a true story, this is a richly textured portrayal of a small town coping with the economic, political and racial realities of post–World War II America. The storytelling is enhanced by fictional excerpts from local papers that provide additional insight, including the "Social News & Arrests" column as well as want ads in addition to substantive articles. Distinctive characters and finely drawn specifics of locale and landscape set this football story apart. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)
School Library Journal
★ 12/01/2013
Gr 8 Up—Based on the true story of a 1950 scrappy high school football team out of Jerome, Arizona, this novel is about an underdog victory. Felix "Red" O'Sullivan and his friends have grown up in the copper-mining town of Hatley, but the ore has depleted over the years. The town has become so small that Hatley High will be closing at the end of the year and students will begin attending school with their Cottonville rivals. The Muckers football team is the smallest in the state, but Coach Hansen and his players are determined to make their final year one that the whole town will remember. What they don't have in brawn, they make up for in sheer toughness. While the outcome of the state championship is no surprise, the novel's strength lies in the development of its characters, especially Red, who is dealing with the loss of his football-champion brother during World War II and his mother's resulting breakdown. Red also has to fight his town's prejudice when he wants to date the sister of his best friend, a Mexican American. Clips from the local paper will broaden readers' perspectives on both the financial straits that the town is in and the McCarthyism that insidiously threatens the townspeople's cohesion. While the large cast of characters can be hard to keep track of, fans of H.G. Bissinger's Friday Night Lights (Addison-Wesley, 1990) and other football histories will appreciate this inspiring tale.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780375867545
Publisher:
Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
10/08/2013
Pages:
288
Product dimensions:
5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
Lexile:
860L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

SANDRA NEIL WALLACE was a news journalist and ESPN sports announcer for more than 15 years before leaving television to write novels. She lives with her husband, author Rich Wallace, and their shelter dog, Lucy, in New Hampshire. Her first novel, Little Joe, was released by Knopf in 2010.

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