Monday, June 4, 2018
Middle Grade Monday and Arc Review: Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald
Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald. 292 p. Amulet Books/ Abrams, September 11, 2018. 9781419731433. (Review from arc courtesy of publisher.)
Thirteen-year-old Teddy lives for football. Now he may be dying for it. He collapsed as he left the field after a brutally hot day at pre-season football conditioning camp with the high school team. Doctors frantically try to stabilize Teddy. Divorced parents are freaking out and unsuccessfully avoiding the blame game. Authorities try to piece together the events. All this happens as he lies in a coma in the ICU. This multiple viewpoint novel is told in dialogue, text messages, a website message board, transcripts of interviews and Teddy's own inner monologue.
This is a quick and compelling read regardless of where you might stand as a fan or non-fan of football. Greenwald does a spectacular job of creating confusion and anxiety with the rapid shifts in POV as well as the shifting formats. It all works well to keep the reader unbalanced and scrambling to make sense. The fractured "sentences" and almost stream-of-consciousness "dialogue" of parents, relatives and friends felt very realistic. It isn't easy talking to someone who's in a coma, especially when you're reeling from the fact that a loved one is grievously injured.
My only quibble (as an adult with a nursing background) is with the medical team who let this circus unfold at Teddy's bedside in the ICU. This is dramatic license; there wouldn't be much of a book without it and your readers won't notice this at all. I think my students will be all over this one. Hand this to almost any reader, not just football fans or "reluctant" readers. Between the fabulous cover and the unique format, Game Changer should have broad appeal and is a fabulous addition to any library.