Riding an emotional roller coaster -- partially caused by the drugs, partially caused by the tough, warlike jock culture that keeps him cut off from his feelings and from connecting with any girlfriend -- team co-captain Matt goes off to football camp, eager to focus on the game. Only a harrowing hazing gone wrong makes him question everything that's made life worth living.
No mere football book, Lipsyte's gripping and at times terrifying novel is a serious critique of macho masculinity. This is a deep, powerful read about all the things that can keep boys and men focused on the strength of the body at the expense of the soul.
This was a class assignment, and I assumed I wouldn't be interested. Boy, was I wrong.
Bibliotherapeutic value: Though shocking at times, this is a brilliant exploration of sports/guy culture. It sends a strong message to the reader that friendship is more important than fighting and winning. Underneath it all, there's a sense that Matt's main problem is that he can't acknowledge his own feelings -- rather than making him a winner, it's threatening to undermine his entire life.
Lipsyte, Robert. HarperTempest, 2006.
ISBN 0-06-059946-4. $15.99.