Stupid Fast by Geoff Herbach

stupidfastFelton Reinstein has never had what you might call a normal life. He has always been a scrawny, goofy, socially awkward kid. His younger brother is a nerdy piano prodigy with no friends and his crazy hippie mom is a school crossing guard. His dad commited suicide when Felton was 8 years old and Felton was the one who discovered the body in the garage. To make all of this even worse, he lives in a small rural Wisconsin town where everyone knows everyone else’s name and business. He is kind of a weird kid, so when someone nicknames him “squirrel nut,” it sticks.

But then one summer right in the middle of high school, everything changed for him. Felton went through a huge growth spurt, grew hair in all kinds of places (don’t ask) and he got stupid fast, fast like a donkey. The football team recruits him, he gets more friends than he has have ever had (that is more than one or two) and he gets a beautiful girl to fall in love with him. And the only time people call him “squirrel nut” now is to cheer him on.

But it also the summer that his mom goes off of the deep end, his brother gets even weirder and his relationship with his best friend Gus starts going down the drain. Football, girlfriend, screwed up family and friendships. Why can’t this stuff ever be easy?

 670L

 

The Contender by Robert Lipsyte

thecontenderIt’s the 1960’s in Harlem, New York. Alfred Brooks is seventeen, a high school dropout, and in real danger of going nowhere in his life. He works at Epstein’s, a neighborhood grocery store, as a stock clerk. It’s probably good enough that he avoids the gang of punks down the street who smoke weed, get drunk, steal cars…

Then one night while looking for his best friend James, Alfred makes a mistake that will change everything. You see, James has been hanging around the same gang Alfred has been trying to avoid. Alfred lets it slip that the owners of Epstein’s grocery leave large amounts of cash in the store over the weekend. The robbery was his fault. James getting caught by the cops is his fault.

He doesn’t know how he ended up at Donateli’s Gym. Henry, the kid from the neighborhood is always talking about the Gym. About the boxers training there. How Alfred should come by sometime. Alfred makes his way up the narrow, dark stairs of the gym. Yes, he tells Mr. Donateli, he wants to train to be a boxer. Yes, he wants to see if he can do it. He wants to see if has what it takes in the ring…to be a contender.

760L

 

Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

7140292[1]Brian Nelson didn’t turn out to be who she expected.

Brian Nelson, starting quarterback for Hawley, her school’s biggest rival team. A rich, spoiled brat.

Brian Nelson, who she spent the whole summer training so he could be in shape for the season. Her summer was going to be spent doing chores: milking cows, taking care of the farm since her dad was too sick to do it himself. Because her mom was already working too much.

D.J. knew football. Her older brothers were legends on the high school football team. She is an athlete herself, playing basketball for the school team. But she never expected to try out for the high school football team. Or to make it on the team as a linebacker.

She never expected to be standing here taking on Brian Nelson in a football game. And worst of all, she never expected to have fallen in love with him.

990L

Raider’s Night by Robert Lypsite

50055[1]This is the year that the Raider’s football team is finally going to go to the state championships. It is a lot of pressure, especially for Matt Rydek, co-captain of the varsity team. It could mean a full scholarship to college and his dad finally getting off of his back.

All the guys have been lifting weights and juicing up on steroids all summer. All of them are looking forward to Raider’s football camp, an intense week of intense training, learning new plays and not thinking of anything but football.

If it hadn’t been for the new kid, Chris, it would have been like any other year. If Chris hadn’t shown off in front of the older players…If he hadn’t been there in the first place…

But he was there and Matt had seen the horrible things they had done to Chris that last night in camp. Now everyone wants to forget it, to bury it. A good captain always does what is best for the team. At all costs, do what is best for the team…