cover image LOSING IS NOT AN OPTION: Stories


Rich Wallace, . . Knopf, $15.95 (127pp) ISBN 978-0-375-81351-1

Not all of these nine linked stories pack the same punch, but together they powerfully render an athlete's coming of age. Wallace (Wrestling Sturbridge) moves from his protagonist's awkward preadolescence to his glory years as a high school track star. Ron's love of sports is a recurring theme, but it does not dominate every selection. More resonant issues center around Ron's relationships: with his distant father, who never comes to his meets, with his high school dropout brother, who gave up on sports, and with a handful of teammates, opponents and girls, who seem beyond his reach. The stories get stronger as the book progresses and as Ron becomes increasingly aware of fractures within his family and of his own frailties. The most insightful and uplifting moment occurs in the final, title story when Ron pushes himself to the limit to win a state track championship. Here the author shifts from first person to third, briefly encapsulating Ron's history—his drives, vulnerabilities and strengths. Readers are asked to read between the lines in a book that is greater—and more powerful—than the sum of its parts. Ages 10-14. (Aug.)