cover image Losers Bracket

Losers Bracket

Chris Crutcher. Greenwillow, $17.99 (256p) ISBN 978-0-06-222006-6

Annie Boots, a skilled hoops player, feels like she lost the biological family lottery. Her mother is an addict, her father is absent, and her older sister is a 19-year-old mother, with no means of support and a troubled five-year-old son named Frankie. Where Annie did luck out is in foster care, having been placed with a well-to-do family. But even that situation is fraught because Pop, a control freak, is mostly interested in Annie for the reflected glory that her athletic accomplishments bring, and Annie continually defies him by refusing to give up on her biological relatives. Then Frankie goes missing, and the story veers toward solving the mystery of his disappearance. Crutcher, whose background as a mental health counselor has long informed his fiction, occasionally lets his characters slip into psychobabble (one teen refers to Frankie’s “maladaptive behaviors”). Even so, his expertise gives the narrative, about the harsh realities of what happens when kids are failed by both their parents and the state, its authenticity. Ages 14–up. Agency: Darhansoff & Verrill. (Apr.)