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Force Out
Author(s)
Publisher
Genre(s)
Age Range
10+
Release Date
March 05, 2013
ISBN
9780062089595
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When two friends compete, one of them will be forced out.

Joey and Zach have always been best friends. They're also two of the best baseball players in their league, and shoo-ins for the all-star team at the end of the season. Their dream is to play together on the Center State select team, and they will do anything to help each other get there.

So when Zach is forced to go on an extra-credit field trip that would make him miss the championship game and his chances to move on, Joey comes up with a risky plan to bail him out. Everything should be fine—as long as no one finds out what they did.

Then the unthinkable happens: The boys learn there's only one open spot on the select team. Suddenly Joey and Zach go from being best friends to biggest rivals, and Joey has to decide his next move. He can play the biggest game of his life, or he can use their secret to force Zach out. How far should Joey go to win?

In this tense, action-packed story that takes an increasingly common dilemma in competitive sports to new heights, former NFL defensive end Tim Green perfectly captures the kids who will push themselves to the limit to compete—even if it means putting everything on the line.

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Doing the right thing

Joey and Zach are teammates and best buddies, so when Zach has to go on a mandatory field trip in order to pass science instead of playing in a crucial game, Joey has a plan-- the boys sneak out in the middle of the night, bike to the home of their science teacher, Mr. Kratz, give his dog a valium, and put a clamp on his truck's fuel line. Mr. Kratz doesn't make it to the train station on time, so Zach is able to play in the game. Joey's mother realizes that one of her valium tablets is gone and confronts Joey, who claims to have taken it because he can't sleep. Joey feels tremendously guilty, but is also worried about getting on the all-star team. He also has to deal with his bratty younger brother, worries about impressing Leah, and has exams to study for. He and Zach get along until they realize that only one of them will make the all-star team. Joey feels he HAS to make it-- he wants to play in the major leagues after he goes to Stanford. The guilt over Mr. Kratz's dog eats at him, and with his mother investigating and blame being cast on all sorts of people, he doesn't know how much longer he can go until he cracks.

Good Points
While this book had plenty of baseball plays described but also dealt with serious issues of honesty and integrity in an intriguing way. Joey didn't think through his plan to allow Zach to play in the game, and he does a lot of soul searching. This, however, is lightened by a good middle school romance and a young brother who bedevils him by filling his baseball glove with kitty litter. Green writes some of the best female characters around-- Leah is smart and knows as much about sports as any of Joey's friends, and his mother is a no-nonsense cop. This will be hugely popular with readers who like baseball and have read this author's other work.
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