Author: David Klass
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (October 20, 2015)
Description: From the author of the backlist favorite You Don't Know Me, a dramedy about the agony of victory and the thrill of defeat.
At Jack Logan’s sports-crazy New Jersey high school, the new rule is that all kids must play on a team. So Jack and a ragtag group of anti-athletic friends decide to get even. They are going to start a rebel JV soccer team whose mission is to avoid victory at any cost, setting out to secretly undermine the jock culture of the school. But as the team’s losing formula becomes increasingly successful at attracting fans and attention, Jack and his teammates are winning in ways they never expected—and don’t know how to handle.
My Thoughts: Jack Logan isn't a big fan of football which is too bad since football is king at his high school and his father was the school's all-time record holder in many categories. When the school gets a new principal, his first change is to require all seniors to be on some sports team. Jack is recruited to be on the team by the new principal/head football coach but declines. Jack learns that the coach once dated his mother until she chose his father over the coach. He also learns that the coach - Muhldinger - is the type of guy who holds grudges.
Jack teams up with some of his non-athletic friends and the girl who is going to be his girlfriend to form a soccer team. First they have to recruit a coach and their choice is a part-time Latin teacher from England. The team has decided to rebel against the win at all cost mentality of the school by trying to lose all their games.
When a video of the principal/coach berating the team after their first game, in which they were blown out by a group of junior high school girls, goes viral. The Loses small time quiet protest gains more momentum than anyone was expecting. It is even picked up by the national press and the kids are being hounded by reporters. Then things escalate. One of the kids on the team is attacked and beaten up, sustaining a concussion and a broken wrist. Another kid has his car set on fire in front of his house.
The simple protest that the kids had in mind soon becomes something that is almost out of their control. There are tensions between Jack and his dad who is also losing in construction job because of the bad economy. Jack's girlfriend Becca is also going through stress at home as her parents are divorcing and her dad has a new, younger girlfriend.
This story was very readable and very engaging. I liked that it was about more than just sports. I also thought it realistically portrayed what social media can do to make a small fire into an inferno. Sports fans will enjoy the hapless performance of the Losers' soccer team and will enjoy seeing Jack discover a sport he enjoys and is good at. People who aren't sports fans will still enjoy the humor in the story.
Muhldinger folded his massive arms over his barn door of a chest. "Sometimes when you play hard you get your bell rung. A few months later, you don't even remember it."I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.
"That could be because concussions cause memory loss," Dylan suggested.
Muhldinger glared at them, and then he said, "I'm not surprised you two don't understand. I've never seen either one of you put on the school colors. But that will change soon enough. Now, I'd like a word alone with Jack."