By Tim Green
Sept. 2021. 304p. Harper, $16.99 (9780062485953). Gr. 4–7
Ben, the quarterback of his sixth-grade football team, is looking forward to a special season. His teammates are friends, and his coaches are Ben’s beloved father, who is a retired NFL player, and his two older brothers, former high-school football stars. When Dad tells his sons that he has been diagnosed with ALS, they’re shaken yet confident that he can carry on as usual. But as the season progresses, the disease takes its toll. Mom becomes adamant that Ben should quit football to avoid concussions and possible brain damage. Meanwhile, a girl who joins Ben’s football team meets some initial resistance from fellow players, but she earns their respect with her courage, skills, and tenacity. Green, a writer, attorney, and former NFL player who announced his ALS diagnosis in 2018, based the story on his experiences while coaching his youngest son’s team along with his two older sons. While football fans will enjoy the play-by-play action, the heart of the story lies in its depiction of strong family relationships. A winning sports novel, on and off the field.