Monday, November 12, 2007

Book Review: Raiders Night by Robert Lipsyte

Book: Raiders Night
Author: Robert Lipsyte
Published: 2006

Matt’s just got one more year to get through before he can escape the house, and his domineering father, for good. One more season of football, as the captain. Then his life is his own, and he never has to be responsible for anyone but himself.

But then a hazing incident at training camp goes too far. Now Matt’s life isn’t so simple. It’s easier to keep his mouth shut, pretending along with the other witnesses that it was no big thing. After all, it was just a joke, right? Just a little fun, something Chris should have expected if he was going to make it on the Raiders. If he can’t handle it, that’s his problem. But Chris can’t handle it, and he repeatedly reaches out to Matt, who makes the decision over and over again to blow him off . . . until the unthinkable happens. Even though he never wanted this captainship . . . it’s time for Matt to act like a captain.

Many high-school sports books show the quarterback or the star pitcher as a morally pure godling, who glides above the foibles of mortal men. Though he has the reputation as the humble, good-hearted hero, Matt has feet of clay. Without coyness or apology, Lipsyte shows him taking steroids, abusing Vicodin, drinking, cheating on his girlfriend, and feeding off the hero worship that envelops him during football season. Therefore, it’s even more of an accomplishment that Matt is as sympathetic as he is. Try out this book on an older teen (boy or girl, although it’s probably more of a sure thing with boys) who wants a book about a flawed young man trying to understand what is the right thing, and how to do it.

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