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Cracking the Bell
Cover of Cracking the Bell
Cracking the Bell
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Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a...
Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a...
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  • Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

    Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah's life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister's death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there's a lot more to lose than football.

    While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can't win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.

    And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

    Isaiah must decide how much he's willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.

About the Author-

  • Geoff Herbach is the author of Hooper and the award-winning Stupid Fast series, as well as Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, and listed among the year's best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and many state library associations. In the past, he produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife. You can find him online at www.geoffherbach.com.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    July 1, 2019
    A troubled Wisconsin teenager finds solid ground and grievous injury alike on the gridiron. If a whole family could be said to suffer from PTSD it would be Isaiah's, devastated by sudden, violent deaths. Bad friends and behavior have seemingly locked him in a downward spiral--until his parents offer a choice of football or a group home. In football, Isaiah not only finds salutary physical and mental challenges, but a perfect outlet for the destructive tendencies driven by his rage and grief. When the latest in a series of concussions leaves him struggling to cover up some scary symptoms, though, an agonizing dilemma presents itself: to walk away from both commitments to teammates and the source of his prized, hard-won stability or to stay on and risk permanent damage? By surrounding Isaiah with a supporting cast that, from ineffectual parents to clueless coaches and an alcoholic former girlfriend, seems notably weak on "support" potential, Herbach (Hooper, 2018, etc.) gives his conflicted narrator agency to make his own decision...but also sets up a climactic round of revelations and confessions that reveal those individuals to be less feeble than he supposed. Along with tackling the deadly hazards of concussions, this novel offers a bulletin to readers facing life-altering changes, telling them that they might not have to go through them alone. A lack of physical descriptions points to a white default. Backmatter not seen. Provocative entry centered on a sizzling topic. (Sports fiction. 15-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • Booklist

    September 1, 2019
    Grades 8-11 Isaiah knows football saved him. Shattered by deaths in his family, the troubled middle-schooler had run-ins with the law and was headed for more conflict when his dad steered him to freshman football. Fast-forward a few years and he's team captain and a local star with a potential prestigious college scholarship in his future. Hits on the field have taken their toll, though?as Isaiah puts it, he's cracked his bell. He knows successive head injuries can lead to serious brain dysfunction and that he needs to quit the sport he loves to stay healthy. But can he really walk away from the thing that fills his life with exhilaration? Might that mean reverting to aimlessness and more trouble? Herbach's story explodes on the page with Isaiah's searching self-reflection. Football fans will love the grace and elegance with which the game is described, yet technical detail never overwhelms the story about a wily, articulate teen desperately trying to envision a future for himself by building a new game plan.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2019, American Library Association.)

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    Katherine Tegen Books
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