October 10, 2014

Fantasy League by Mike Lupica

Charlie Gaines loves football. He is 12 years old and is already at the top of his game in fantasy league football. He is a football genius, with a depth of knowledge and ability to call plays that is well beyond his years. His talent doesn't go unnoticed. While not a star player in his pop warner team, the Culver City Cardinals, his coach has made him an assistant coach to call difficult plays. Even more fantastic, is his relationship with Anna. She loves football as much as Charlie, and she happens to be the granddaughter of the man who brought NFL football back to Los Angeles, the owner of the L.A. Bulldogs. Recognizing Charlie's talent, Anna encourages him to start a fantasy football podcast. His first podcast snowballs into a relationship with Anna's grandfather Mr. Warren, where Charlie advises him to sign players that he thinks will improve the Bulldog's dismal record. Charlie and Mr. Warren become good friends, but difficulties with the press, Mr. Warren's health, and Anna become unexpected issues.

As with most books centered around sports, the real issues, resolutions, and character growth go deeper than the sport. Charlie has a very supportive mother, but misses having a father around. His relationship with Anna grows to be something more than a football buddy. The relationship that grows between Charlie and Mr. Warren becomes one where each fills a void in their lives. The writing is simple and straightforward, the football segments are detailed and at times exciting, perfect for the target audience; middle school boys. While somewhat predictable, and a rather contrived plot (Charlie just happens to have a friend whose millionaire grandfather owns a sports franchise), it was an enjoyable read.
Reed Reads Score: 3

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