Mike has his junior year well under control. He's got a solid group of friends. He's dating Lori, one of the hottest girls in school. And Coach Cody has all but given him the starting spot as the Ridgedale Rangers' varsity center fielder. And then Oscar Ramirez shows up. Oscar is an amazing ballplayer, as talented at the plate as he is in center field, and it's not long before Mike loses control. He's on the bench, he's getting into fights, and he finds himself in weekend detention with Katherine Herold, the most mysterious, abrasive, alluring girl in school. Mike is lost, confused, and looking to Coach Cody to help him get back on track. But the coach has his own set of rules for Mike to play by, and the decisions Mike makes are going to impact more than just the starting lineup.
Robert Lipsyte, one of the most celebrated writers in young adult literature, has crafted a subtly intense tale of adolescent struggle, a sports story about much more than sports—one that shows us how the moves one makes off the field matter even more than the moves one has on it.
Lipsyte is pitch-perfect…[his] storytelling is riveting, his characters are complex and nuanced, and the suburban ambience he recreates is spot-on. With its neglected teenagers, its distracted and overworked adults and its scheming, self-serving authority figures who excuse their every transgression in the name of "security," the suburb of Ridgedale could be a metaphor for America in the 21st century. That might be reading too much into it. But to paraphrase [John] Fogerty, beat the drum and hold the phone; Robert Lipsyte could be center field on any team of young adult writers I could name.