Like Makechnie's Ten Thousand Tries, we get to experience what life is like for a middle school age sports player who must deal with a parent with ALS. Unlike that book, we get to read about the experience from someone who is living through this condition. Green approaches the topic in a realistic but unflinching way. There is garbled speech, frequent small injuries, and a slow slide into more serious debilitations. What there is not is a sense of self pity. John and his family hope for the best, take comfort in their religion and in their family unit, and try to make the most of each moment while they can. There are times when it is difficult to do this, and moments where it is all too much, but they are brief. Ben's determination to do his best on the field in order to make his father proud is strong, but this doesn't make playing any easier. The inclusion of Thea is great, because it offers us a 2021 snapshot of the welcome that girls get in football, right along with Lupica's Triple Threat. I loved that Ben questions why his sisters didn't play football, and that John explains that lacrosse was their sport, or he would have been happy for them to play. If you've never read a "football book" because you don't like sports, or don't think that sports books are as lyrical or as much of a "heart print" book as others, pick this up. Everyone should pick this one up. You won't need tissues, because you will be able to wipe away your few stoic tears with your sleeve.
This is a very important reminder that no matter how much anyone loves this sport, no one should be playing football anymore. No one.
This is a powerful novel, and a fantastic testament to Mr. Green's perseverance, upbeat attitude, love for his family, and his contributions to both the sport and the literature of football. We all have to go out, and some of us have to go out in painful ways, but Mr. Green has shown, with tremendous grace, how to go out swinging.