Love, Football, and Other Contact Sports

Alden R. Carter, Author . Holiday $16.95 (261p) ISBN 978-0-8234-1975-3

Carter's (Crescent Moon ) loosely connected short stories follow the on- and off-the-field travails of some members of the Argyle West high school football team (in Wisconsin), and the girls who love them. Tight end Kenneth Bauer and his girlfriend, Sarah, who edits the Purple Cow Literary Magazine , appear in several stories and are upstanding students, but even those less likely to succeed get their day in the sun here: "Big Chicago," a tough-looking transfer student stands up to bullies picking on an autistic teen and, as a result, finds he's valued for more than just his blocking abilities. Mouthy feminist Shauna, who loudly decries the sexist tradition of players signalling their "chosen female" by leaving their practice jersey on the girl's desk on game day, comes around when good guy Lenny leaves his jersey on her desk. Even the teachers come off as caring and conscientious. (The only irredeemable character, in fact, is the quarterback, whose fatal flaw is egocentrism.) There are no drugs in this school, the violence is restricted to knocking heads together on the field, and the sex limited to necking. The quaint and gently humorous goings-on makes these stories appropriate for even young middle schoolers as, despite the title, the thread that ties these stories together is neither love nor football but doing the right thing. Argyle High emerges as a safe, friendly and mostly fun place to go to school. Ages 12-up. (July)

Reviewed on: 07/24/2006
Release date: 03/01/2006
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