As the third generation of Hildebrand family racing, sixteen-year-old Kyle and his older brother, Kris, know that a NASCAR driver is either a wannabe or a true racer. Their grandfather, Sir Walter, a true gentleman of the sport, and Uncle Kale have steered the family on a mission to get a sponsor to support their endeavors. Kris thrives as the focal point, enjoying the fan's adulation while honing his racing skills, so Kyle concentrates on being the best trumpet player. When Kris gets hurt, Kyle is expected to carry on with racing, but once he does, he cannot decide if he should just keep Kris's seat warm or if he also wants to win. He has spent the last year focusing on his instrument, the quintet, and the tutelage of Mr. G. "It's Uncle Kale's possibilities against Mr. G's promise. There's a race. Me against me." To add to his dilemma, he is torn between Nicole, his fellow musician, and the new team mechanic, Jimmie, the red-headed daughter of Sir Walter's best friend. The battle over loyalties-family versus friendship-is one with which each reader can identify, especially the teens' perspective. The heart-pounding action, excitement, and detail of the sport are skillfully conveyed in this compelling book, which will appeal to young adults with any interest in racing and make it both an ideal pleasure read and great addition to public and school libraries.
A Contender (HarperCollins, 1987) for racing fans. Born to a multigenerational racing family, 17-year-old Kyle Hillebrand gave up driving for his trumpet and his brass quintet. However, as his family struggles to get back into big-time racing, he is pulled between his love of music and his responsibility to his family. An injury to his brother, the heir apparent to the racing dynasty, puts Kyle back in the driver's seat in an attempt to continue the team's success in hopes of luring sponsorships that could lead back to NASCAR's Busch and Nextel Cup racing series. Kyle drives well in his substitute role and the team lands the sponsor, which leads to his family's planning a second car so that he can continue racing alongside the now-healthy Kris, forcing a decision by Kyle. His choice is complicated by pressure from his family and by friction with members of his quintet, who resent his time away to help out the racing team, as well as by two potential love interests, one in the quintet and the other an employee of the racers. Lipsyte maintains a good level of tension, leaving it unclear throughout most of the book which road Kyle will choose as he finds he enjoys both. Racing scenes are engaging and generally plausible, and they provide a good setting for the relationship issues and suspense inherent in a teen's choice between his desires and his family's expectations.
Jeffrey A. FrenchCopyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kyle Hildebrand isn't the chosen one in his racing family. He's a talented trumpet player and will always be little brother to Kris who is a born racer ready to advance to the Cup circuit. But Kyle isn't sure if he wants to completely separate himself from racing. When Kris suffers a concussion in a crash, the injury prevents him from being behind the wheel. It's all about keeping the car in competition, so the family powers have Kyle "keep the seat warm" until Kris is able to resume driving. He surprises everyone by placing fourth. Caught between two worlds, Kyle is unable to commit fully to either. Lipsyte has done his homework by describing track action that is spot on, and NASCAR fans will feel right at home. But off the track, the author's comparisons of racing to playing music come across as something of a moral lesson. Small complaints aside, this is one of the few current young-adult titles connected to on-track action and easily pulls away from other racing titles. (Fiction. YA)