John "Crash" Coogan got his nickname when he got his first football helmet one Christmas and he knocked his cousin Bridget over into the snow before she could even enter the house. Crash's life continues in much the same way; as a youngter he digs hole in the yard and buries his mother's flowers, and when he hits seventh grade he focuses on football and goofing around with his best friend Mike Deluca. Their favorite target is their neighbor, Penn Webb, a Quaker and a vegitarian who tries out for the Cheer squad.
Although this story is a typical jock befriends neighborhood outcast tale on the surface, Jerry Spinelli is much too talented to leave it at that. Crash is growing up, but the changes are subtle, and Spinelli never forces the issue. Crash's parents work too hard and are rarely home, and Spinelli shows us Crash's reaction without overdoing it. Crash himself never realizes that he is maturing, but that one of the things that makes this such an enjoyable novel. Crash retains his joyful energy even as he faces challaneges and chooses between right and wrong.