Saturday, June 7, 2008

Box Out by John Coy

Coy, John (2008). Box Out. New York: Scholastic Press (out June 2008)

Liam is a natural athlete, and his passion is basketball. He looks forward to the day that he can join the elite on varsity, but is willing to settle for junior varsity for now with his best friend, Seth. But a senior injury puts Liam on the varsity team, and now the game is completely different – the speed, the agility, the upperclassmen. And Seth is loving it, especially when he gets to play with Darius, the most skilled varsity player.
But after one game, Darius quits for no reason, and Liam sees how this affects Darius’s life. He went from being a star player to being shunned, his friends turning their back on him. Liam doesn’t know what to make of that, or of how Coach Kloss handles the situation. But he’s enjoying the benefits of being on the team, from a job in the mall to the adoration of his girlfriend dating a varsity player.
But there is an undertone of pressure from the coach and players. The Thursday morning athlete breakfast and prayer meetings he needs to participate in. The sweatbands with the HWJC on them…leading prayer before game. Liam begins to notice that some players don’t feel comfortable with this, but go along anyway – and then he thinks about Darius and how suddenly he quits.
Caught between being a team player and standing up for his rights, Liam decides to get help from the Americans United for Separation of Church and State and makes an ultimate decision that will cause his life to take a downward spiral on and off the court.
After the school gets a call to cease and desist, Liam becomes an outcast, just like Darius. But just as he think life can’t get any worse, he begins to find out that there are players, coaches and true friends who will stand behind him, even if it wasn’t what many others would call the right choice.
This book takes a snapshot of small town life and the pressures of being an athlete, but in a completely opposite spectrum than most people think about. Controversial in nature, prayer on the court or field is highly respected in a small community. John Coy once again hits a solid chord about athletes with his new book, tackling the other side of sports than the one he wrote about in Crackback. In a world of black and white, Coy writes about the grey area. Readers will either cheer or jeer at this book, but the subject is very relevant in student life today.
c. 2008, Scholastic Press

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