cover image Hit Count

Hit Count

Chris Lynch. Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95 (368p) ISBN 978-1-61620-250-7

In this brutal, no-holds-barred drama, Lynch (Killing Time in Crystal City) paints a grim portrait of a teen addicted to the physicality of high-impact sports like football. Arlo Brodie, an up-and-coming freshman linebacker, discovers a talent for taking down anyone in his path on the field, and he revels in the contact and the rush. Over the next few years, he grows obsessed with training and working out, becoming a star varsity player as a sophomore and earning the nickname “Starlo.” But the harder he hits, the more abuse his body takes, worrying his friends, family, girlfriend, and teammates. Arlo’s entire identity is rooted in dominating the field and crushing his opponents, but he may have no choice but to stop, as injuries take their toll. Lynch offers a powerful, provocative look at the dark side of popular sports and their potential cost, using Arlo as a cautionary, even tragic tale. Arlo’s rise and fall is handled skillfully, allowing readers into the self-destructive, self-deceiving mind-set of an addict without condemning him. The ending is abrupt, however; Arlo’s story feels far from done. Ages 14–up. (May)