What's it mean to think team? It means you don't talk team business with anybody who isn't on the team. It means whatever happens inside the team stays inside. It means you can only trust a brother Raider. Any questions?
At Nearmont High School, football stars are treated like royalty, and Matt Rydek has just ascended to the throne. He's got it all: hot girls, chill friends, plenty of juice to make him strong, and a winning team poised to go all the way. If he can keep his eye on the ball now, his future will be set. But when the team turns on one of its own, should Matt play by Raiders rules, or should he go long alone?
Lipsyte's (The Contender) latest sports drama is a riveting and chilling look inside contemporary high school football, starring captain and wide receiver Matt Rydek. Matt's intense focus on winning a scholarship is driven in equal measure by his love of the game and his desire to escape from his maniacal father. As the novel opens, the local gym owner injects a syringe of "all-pro cocktail" into Matt's buttocks. Steroids use, however, is not the most frightening aspect of the book. The real action begins during the last week of football camp, before the start of the season. Nearmont High's coaches are excited by the arrival of Chris Marin, a talented sophomore transfer student. Less thrilled is Matt's co-captain, Ramp, a brutish homophobe, whose starting position Chris could win. On the last night of camp, the traditional hazing turns into a sexual assault, which all the seniors witness. The adults, fearing scandal, hear rumors but adopt a "don't ask, don't tell" policy, mirroring their stance on steroid use. As co-captain, Matt knows he would risk everything his friends, his senior season, his future if he goes to authorities. Lipsyte exposes the underbelly of high school sports where racism, drug use, misogyny and bullying are shrugged off so long as the team wins. Matt has a soul-crushing choice to make and Lipsyte's careful rendering of the world in which Matt moves gives his story an awful and terrifying ring of truth. Ages 14-up.