One Good Punch

One Good Punch

4.0 3
by Rich Wallace

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ASK ANYBODY AROUND East Scranton High School: Michael Kerrigan is almost too good to be true. Dedicated athlete, captain of the track team, editorial assistant (obituary writer) at the Scranton Observer, he's never been in trouble, and he doesn't associate with troublemakers. This is the most important track season of his life - and he's ready.

That is


ASK ANYBODY AROUND East Scranton High School: Michael Kerrigan is almost too good to be true. Dedicated athlete, captain of the track team, editorial assistant (obituary writer) at the Scranton Observer, he's never been in trouble, and he doesn't associate with troublemakers. This is the most important track season of his life - and he's ready.

That is, until the police find four joints in his locker. Soon Mike's seemingly perfect world is threatened, and with pressure coming from his parents, his childhood best friend, and his sort-of girlfriend, Mike is faced with a choice - a choice that will determine the kind of athlete, friend, and man he becomes.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Jessica Mize
Michael Kerrigan has plans that do not include hanging around East Scranton, "unemployed, sitting on the porch of [his] parents' house . . . drinking beer." He is going to be a writer, even if for now he only writes obits for the Scranton Observer. But first, he wants to place in the 800-meter relay at state. Michael is an athlete and steers clear of trouble, so when his friend Joey calls to say that he left "something" in Michael's locker, Michael does not panic. He is "almost too good to be true." Because of his job at the newspaper, Michael quickly learns that drugs were found in his school, and that his name is on the list. The school officials and police suspect Joey's involvement-he has a reputation-but they have no proof. If Michael and Joey remain silent, Michael will take the hit alone. But can he rat out his friend even if it means losing his dreams? The newspaper setting and sports theme make this novel read like a play-by-play. The newspaper setting contributes to the concise construction of the prose. Michael is a bright and aspiring character unlike the "jock" stereotype. Although he wants to achieve personal success, he struggles with the relationships around him, not wanting to let anyone down. This novel's success is in creating a multidimensional male character in a format that will appeal to all readers. The moral dilemma-to tell or not to tell-makes this novel ripe for ethical discussions.
Children's Literature
Michael Kerrigan was a model student and athlete with a job as an editorial assistant for the Scranton Observer. He felt good about his accomplishments and planned to do more during his last year in high school. He expected to go to college the following year and was anxious to leave Scranton. His father was a professor and his mother a published writer. They did not interfere with Michael and left him alone to make his own decisions. His only girl friend was Shelly, whom he had known since elementary school. Some of their classmates teased about her being a lesbian, while others said she would “do” anybody. Things were going well until he asked a friend to sell him four marijuana joints. Shelly wanted them more than he did. Instead of giving them to him, the friend put them in his locker. Before Michael found them, the police did. Michael would not involve the other students and accepted all the guilt himself. The result: he was expelled from school, lost his position on the track team, and lost his job at the newspaper writing obituaries. His parents were disappointed, but as usual let him decide his course of action. Michael refuses to give up, in spite of his trouble. The author, Rich Wallace, has written ALA’s top ten Best Books for Young Adults. This latest, no doubt, will also end winning prizes. Reviewer: Jennie DeGenaro
Kirkus Reviews
To everyone around him, Michael Kerrigan is "almost too good to be true." He's a runner hoping to compete in college, he writes obituaries as an editorial assistant for the Scranton Observer and he never hangs out with troublemakers. But when lockers are searched at East Scranton High School and marijuana is found in his, Michael is faced with a moral dilemma: "Where do you draw the line with your integrity? Do you protect yourself or your friend?" This isn't an original dilemma for a young-adult novel, and here it's never adequately played out or resolved. In fact, readers may get to the end of this too-brief work and wonder, "Where's the rest?" Yet the story has a lot going for it: a solid first-person voice and lively dialogue, an innovative use of "not dead yet" obituaries to flesh out secondary characters and a superb depiction of Scranton and Michael's oneness with his city. Readers will wish there were more to it. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
As quick and tight as a taut jab.”—Kirkus Reviews

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.80(w) x 8.55(h) x 0.63(d)
790L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Coal-Mine Fires Continue to Smolder

People keep dying, so my phone never stops ringing. I've made notes in the computer for fourteen obituaries tonight, and I haven't written up a single one. Most I've ever done in a shift is fifteen, and it's only 9:23, so there's plenty more to come."Scranton Observer. . . . Yeah, we got time. . . . He was a high school valedictorian, and then he worked in the mines? . . . Which Legion post? . . . In Jessup? . . . Mercy Hospital; family by his side. Okay. Talk to you later."I've been doing this job for five months now, and this is the busiest night I've ever had. Officially, I'm an editorial assistant, which used to be called a copy boy and generally means gofer.I'm a backup phone-answerer for the news department, but mostly I talk to the funeral directors and get information for the next day's obituaries—the dead person's name, age, where they were born, where they lived, surviving relatives, employment history, etc. Also the stuff that makes these things interesting—their hobbies, organizations they belonged to, their World War II-era nicknames (already today I've had Babe, Pops, Hammer, and Dingle). Then I write it up into readable paragraphs for the morning paper, doing it as fast as I can."Scranton Observer. . . . c-z-y-k? . . . Okay, so 'after a dignified and courageous struggle.' . . . Life member of VFW Post 4921. Where's that again? . . . Lone Pine Hunting Club. . . . Where'd he work? . . . Yeah, call me back with the survivors. No problem."I'm on a first-name basis with all of the local funeral directors, who call us in the evenings to get their latest clients featured in the paper. I work Friday, Saturday, and Monday nights, which sucks when you're a high school senior—I miss all the parties—but it's undeniably good experience for what I want to do with my life. These were the only shifts available."Scranton Observer. . . . Yes, Mr. Powell, this is Mike. . . . I haven't written it yet, but I've got my notes right here. . . . Scranton Eagles Memorial Classic at South Side Lanes, 1946. You say he rolled a 282, not 280. . . . Fixed it. Anything else? . . . I've got his brothers Fred in Minooka and Johnny in Dunmore, and a sister Kitty in Green Ridge. And predeceased by a brother Buddy in 1997. . . .""Yeah, of course we can mention the dogs. . . . Lucy and E-t-h-e-l. They both Labs? . . . Sweet. They gotta be missing him. They let dogs go to funerals, don't they? . . . Oh yeah, I'm running like eight miles a day. I jump on a treadmill at the Y when it's icy, but it's been dry lately. We start working out for real on Wednesday. Can't wait. . . . Thanks. Come see a race if you get a chance."There are a lot of very old people around this city. Well, obviously there are fewer all the time. But you learn a lot about their lives taking down the information for their final appearance in the newspaper.You can get a real history lesson reading the obit section every day—all the factories and mills that shut down way before I was born; the huge number of different churches and organizations people belong to (just in the last ten minutes, for example: the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Polish Women's Alliance, the Red Hat Society, the Olyphant Billiards Association).Good people—lots of war veterans, lots of faithful parishioners, lots of beloved grandparents. They die at home or in the hospital or a senior center, of old age or cancer or who knows what. The worst cases are when a kid dies in a car accident. Nobody I know yet, but I had to write one a few months ago when two guys from that football team went over the railing on Route 81 in a pickup truck.You read the obits and you learn about the city's history. But they also get you worrying about its future."Scranton Observer. . . . Don't call me here, Joey. . . . Because I'm working. . . . What kind of emergency? . . . Look in your backpack. I gotta go. . . . Because the phones ring constantly. People die around here every fifteen seconds. . . . Old people mostly. . . . I gotta go, man. . . . The other phone is ringing. Get lost.""Scranton Observer. . . . That's me. . . . Sure. One second. . . . Okay—spell that last name. . . . Lifelong resident? . . . So we'll say that he lived briefly in Carbondale before returning to Scranton in 1953. . . . Know when he retired? . . . Okay. Can you hold on a second?""Scranton Observer. . . . Hi, Mr. Rasmussen. . . . No problem. Can I call you right back? . . . Okay.""Thanks for holding. I think I knew this guy. Did he umpire Little League games in East Scranton? . . . Right. Right, the gold teeth. Great guy. . . . You can call me back with that. . . . The Friday night deadline is eleven, but we got time. . . . You know where he served? . . . So you're going to want the American flag symbol with this one? . . . You bringing in a photo? . . . No problem. Call me back. We got plenty of time."It's no wonder the city's population drops with every census. We're still burying former coal miners and textile workers—remnants of long-gone industries. One night last week—both within twenty minutes—I wrote obits for two ladies that were over a hundred years old. Both had lived their entire lives in Scranton.Who replaces them? Probably not me.I'm out of here in a few months, off to college and then who knows where? If this city had more to offer, I'd probably come back, but as things stand, I can't see it.Scranton started dying years ago—fading into urban blight. Not collapsing, just losing its gleam. Most of the textile factories closed way back, and although coal-mine fires still smolder under parts of the city, none of the wealth and employment of that industry remain either. I sometimes picture myself at age thirty, unemployed, sitting on the porch of my parents' house in the evening, drinking a can of beer. It isn't a difficult leap to make—a third of the houses in our neighborhood have someone like that hanging around.

Meet the Author

Rich Wallace is the author of Losing Is Not an Option; Wrestling Sturbridge, an ALA Top 10 Best Book for Young Adults; Shots on Goal, a Booklist Top 10 Youth Sports Book; and Playing Without the Ball, an ALA Quick Pick. He lives in Honesdale, Pennsylvania.

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One Good Punch 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
TeensReadToo More than 1 year ago
ONE GOOD PUNCH is a sure-fire winner for any teen. Just short of 120 pages, it is a fast-paced, page-turner with suspense and humor. I predict it will end up on most Best Teen Books and Quick Reads lists soon.

Michael is a senior. An ambitious cross-country and track runner, he is hoping to use his talent as a stepping stone to a decent college. His part-time job at the Scranton Observer writing obituaries is giving him valuable experience as he dreams of someday writing novels.

Trusted by his parents, Michael leads the life of a typical 18-year-old. When not working or running, he spends most of his time with his best friend, Shelly. Mostly they hang out and talk or take in a movie at the Cultural Center downtown. Lately things have moved a bit more in the romantic direction, which Michael feels is a bit weird, but at the same time, it feels sort of right.

Life changes overnight for Michael when four joints are discovered in his locker during a routine drug sweep of the high school. Put there by his friend, Joey, they represent the possible end to Michael's future dreams. He did ask Joey to get him a couple of joints, but he never dreamed the kid would be stupid enough to put them in his locker.

Michael gets advice from just about everyone he knows that he should rat out Joey as his supplier. Even school officials suggest things would go easier for him if he tells. Torn between giving up his future plans and staying loyal to a longtime friend, Michael's world is turned upside-down.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Michael is a well-rounded high school student, striving, like everyone else, to finish high school, and get out of his home town of Scranton, Pennsylvania. He writes obituaries for the local newspaper, spending his weekend nights answering phone calls from funeral homes with details of the deceased. Michael also is the captain of the track team and has been training all winter to win the state championship. One Friday afternoon Michael¿s semi-girlfriend, Shelly, asks Michael to get some marijuana for the weekend. Michael asks his old friend, and well known drug dealer, Joey, but instead of giving it to Michael, Joey puts the marijuana in Michael¿s locker. That weekend the school is locked up and the police check the school for drugs.Michael is faced with the decision to either turn in his old friend and finish high school, or face the consequences that are to come. Rich Wallace provides an admirable character and pairs him with a difficult, yet frequently occurring, situation. The novel is broken up into different sections, each resembling the sections of a newspaper. The chapters are titled as if they are articles from a newspaper, each addressing the issues in the chapter such as ¿Study connects Denial to Suppressed Guilt.¿
Anonymous More than 1 year ago