Friday, August 24, 2018

ARC Review: The Prodigy by John Feinstein

The Prodigy
Author: John Feinstein
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (August 28, 2018)

Description: From award-winning sportswriter John Feinstein, a YA novel about a teen golfer poised to blaze his way into Masters Tournament history―and he’ll face secrecy, sacrifice, and the decision of a lifetime to get there.

Seventeen-year-old Frank Baker is a golfing sensation. He’s set to earn a full-ride scholarship to play at the university of his choice, but his single dad wants him to skip college and turn pro―golf has taken its toll on the family bank account, and his dad is eager to start cashing in on his son’s prowess. Frank knows he isn’t ready for life on the pro tour―regardless of the potential riches―so his swing coach enlists a professional golfer turned journalist to be Frank’s secret adviser.

Pressure mounts when, after reaching the final of the U.S. Amateur tournament, Frank wins an automatic invite to the Masters. And when the prodigy, against all odds, starts tearing up the course at Augusta National, sponsors are lined up to throw money at him―and his father. But Frank’s entry in the Masters hinges on maintaining his standing as an amateur. Can he and his secret adviser―who has his own conflicts―keep Frank’s dad at bay long enough to bring home the legendary green jacket?

My Thoughts: Golf loving teens will enjoy that story of Frank Baker's rise to fame. Frank is a golfing phenomenon and his father is eager to cash in on his son's future. He wants Frank to turn pro out of high school. Frank wants to go to at least two years of college before turning pro. On his side are his swing coach Slugger Johnston and Slugger's college friend Keith Forman who now writes about golf.

Both Slugger and Keith were college golfers who gave the pro circuit a try but weren't able to make it to the pro tour. Keith, at least, should be able to give Frank unbiased advice since he doesn't have a financial interest in his future. On his father's side is Ron Lawrensen who wants to be Frank's agent and who is filling Frank's father's ears with dreams of riches.

This story is filled with golf action and the dropped names of many of the stars of the game. The detailed play-by-play of various rounds of golf might be more than most non-golfers can handle. I played some as a kid and teen and found them interesting. I also liked the insight into some of the big names in the golfing world. I thought that Frank's dad using Tiger Woods's dad as a role model was a realistic vision for parents who want to live their lives through their kids. I also liked that Slugger and Keith were quick to point out that Tiger's life off the course wasn't anything most parents would want for their child.

While I enjoyed this story, I didn't find the characterization of Frank to be completely realistic. I thought he was too mature and too media savvy for even an extraordinary seventeen-year-old. I had trouble believing that he could handle the pressure of the media interviews after his great performances on the course without a falter.

Golf fans won't want to miss this feel-good sports story about a phenomenal young athlete.

Favorite Quote:
"Well, I guess that's why Greg Norman liked to say, 'There's a reason why golf's a four-letter word'"
I received this one in exchange for an honest review from NetGalley. You can buy your copy here.

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