During a soccer game early in Lynch's latest novel, 17-year-old Xan, enraged by opponents' unsportsmanlike antics, fouls a player so hard that he's given a two-week suspension. Reading this story of economic and emotional desperation is only slightly less of a body blow. Robert, Xan's older half-brother, narrates with a cerebral wit and detachment that belie the stresses of life with their single mother in a small home that's been no stranger to bill collectors lately. Robert is eager for Xan to shed his outsider tendencies, but begins to realize that, caught up in his own life, he's never really had Xan's back. And social pressures, combined with Xan's sense of moral responsibility (and his susceptibility), are leading his brother down a dangerous path. "It is not because he is stupid or weak-minded," Robert says. "It is because he cares so much, and because he wants, so much, to belong." For those who wonder about the roots of homegrown terror and extremism, National Book Award Finalist Lynch pushes the spotlight from the individual to society in a story that can be brutal and ugly, yet isn't devoid of hope. Ages 12–up. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 12/20/2010 Release date: 02/01/2011 Genre: Children's
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