Seventeen-year-old Zeb Holloway is happy to work in his uncle’s auto repair shop and cruise through school without much effort. He’s a quarterback on his high school’s undefeated football team, but he never plays. Why would he when T.T. Munroe—a walking, talking highlight reel—is around? That is, until T.T’s injured a week before the state championships. Now Zeb is starting. As he assumes the role of QB and team leader, the entire town is watching him. And when a college recruiter says Zeb could have a future beyond his small New Hampshire town, he realizes there’s a bigger life out there for him . . . if he can play his heart out.
A Sports Book with Broad Appeal
GAME CHANGE by Joseph Monninger follows its main character Zeb Holloway for one week in his life--and what a week it is. The book opens as Zeb watches T.T. Monroe, the starting quarterback for his high school football team and one of the top five players in the country, get hurt during the semifinal game of the state championships. T.T.'s injury has a big impact on Zeb since Zeb is the backup quarterback for the team, and he's never played a down in a game. The team pulls out a win in the semifinals, and the rest of GAME CHANGE focuses on Zeb's experiences as a newly discovered potential star who will be leading his team in a championship game. Suddenly girls notice him (including Stella, a pretty cheerleader who had been dating T.T.), a college coach is calling him, and the whole town is talking about him.
Monninger manages to do a lot with Zeb's character in a short book covering 7 days. Zeb is quiet, calm, kind, and confident, and he offers a lot of thoughtful observations on football, high school, family, and friendships. Although GAME CHANGE feels languid at times, it managed to keep me engaged and curious about what would happen next with Zeb. Much as I loved many aspects of the book, there were some problems with it. Football fans might wonder why a purportedly genius head coach has never given a backup quarterback snaps in a real game, and Stella is so annoying that Zeb's friendship with her is puzzling. But this lovely character-driven sports book overcomes its small flaws. It's a quick read, and I think it will have broad appeal.
My thanks to YA Books Central and the publisher for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.
Great main character