Thursday, February 13, 2014

ARC Review: Grandmaster by David Klass

Author: David Klass
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (February 25, 2014)

Description: Freshman Daniel Pratzer gets a chance to prove himself when the chess team invites him and his father to a weekend-long parent-child tournament. Daniel, thinking that his father is a novice, can’t understand why his teammates want so badly for them to participate. Then he finds out the truth: as a teen, his father was one of the most promising young players in America, but the pressures of the game pushed him too far, and he had to give up chess to save his own life and sanity. Now, thirty years later, Mr. Pratzer returns to the game to face down an old competitor and the same dark demons that lurk in the corners of a mind stretched by the demands of the game. Daniel was looking for acceptance—but the secrets he uncovers about his father will force him to make some surprising moves himself, in Grandmaster by David Klass.

My Thoughts: Daniel Pratzer is a new freshman at an exclusive private school. He has joined the chess team because it takes less time out of his needed studying time each week. He is surprised when the senior co-captains invite him and his father to a weekend parent-child tournament in New York City. Daniel is surprised to learn that his father is a chess Grandmaster who gave up chess thirty years before to save his own life and sanity.

At first, Daniel feels betrayed that there was so much he didn't know about his own father. But, when his father agrees to do the tournament weekend with him, they both embark on an adventure that reveals hidden secrets while deepening the relationship between the two of them.

Morris Pratzer encounters old enemies and very trying situations at the tournament while Daniel meets a girl who is also playing in the tournament. Liu is a smart-talking New Yorker. The two start as rivals and soon become friends.

One of the most interesting parts of the story for me was the dynamics between the father-son teams. The other fathers are a cardiac surgeon and a hedge fund manager. Morris is an accountant. The other sons are overachievers of one sort or another - swimming champion and class valedictorian. Daniel is really pretty average. He gets average grades and has average athletic ability. What he does have is a strong love for his father and strong sense of who he is. He has the security of knowing that he is loved and accepted for himself.

I loved the chess details that sprinkled the story and really felt the intensity of the tournament. Readers interested in chess or great stories about fathers and sons will not be disappointed with this fascinating story.

Favorite Quote:
I opened my arms and we embraced. "You were...stupendous," I told him. I felt the cold sweat all over him, and also that he was trembling. "Are you okay?" I asked him.
"Sure," he said, and then he passed out in my arms.
I got this ARC from Macmillan Children's Publishing Group. You can buy your copy here.

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