cover image Center Field

Center Field

Robert Lipsyte. HarperTeen, $16.99 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-06-055704-1

Lipsyte again shines light on the dark corners of high school jock culture, this time focusing on the corrupt adults who let kids make bad choices so long as the people in charge look good. Mike believes he’s the starting centerfielder until a new kid, Oscar, shows up. Oscar’s past is murky, but his skills are evident. Is he really a high school–age transfer student? Anxious about becoming a benchwarmer, Mike shoves a nerdy kid who is annoying him, resulting in weekend community service helping the school’s Cyber Club. These eye-opening sessions reveal that the maniacal baseball coach, who also serves as the school’s dean of discipline, either has something of his own to hide or serious control issues. Mike wrestles with increasingly hard choices—should he please the coach by delivering dirt on his Cyber Club buds (including the foxy but tortured Katherine), or maintain his integrity and lose a chance at a baseball scholarship? Though this one doesn’t pack the wallop of Raiders’ Night (2006), Lipsyte delivers another thoughtful, entertaining sports drama. Ages 12–up. (Apr.)