As always, Lupica really shines when it comes to the female characters in the books. Clay's mom wants him to be concerned, but she doesn't want to scare him. Maddis knows and loves football, and she and Clay are able to hang out comfortably together. Are they dating? They joke about it, but since they are so young, they are okay with being friends for the moment. Maddie also has some great tech skills to help coach out, and she and Clay make a great team.
I was concerned for a while that the Coach's problems would not be brought to the attention of adults who could help him, but Clay and Maddie are responsible kids and know that eventually the matter will become too big for them to handle.
Of course, middle school readers will want the football details more than the emotional ones, and there's plenty of pulse-pounding, on the field action. With David out of commission, the Lone Stars have to learn to work together as a slightly different team, and their process of understanding what they need to do was interesting, even though I didn't understand most of the football plays!
Readers who enjoy Tim Green, Lupica's other books, Rich Wallace, or David Klass will definitely want to pick up Lone Stars. My only complaint is that I thought the ending was rushed-- I was prepared to read another 100 pages to find out how things went after the championship game!