The League

The League
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Release Date
September 10, 2013
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Just when it seems that his football dreams are history, Wyatt's older brother, Aaron, makes an unexpected offer: If Wyatt ditches golf camp, he can play with Aaron in the League of Pain: the roughest and most secretive rogue football league in town. Now Wyatt has a choice. He can play by the rules like he always does, or he can follow his heart—even if it means lying to the people he cares about the most. But if Wyatt wants to play in the league, he must learn to accept the penalties.

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Wyatt has a good best friend, Francis; an awesome friend who is a girl, Evan; involved parents, and a pretty good life. But he is also dealing with Spencer Randle, who steals his lunch money and threatens to beat him up, and the fact that Evan finds older football player Brian to be brain-bendingly cute. When Wyatt's parents sign him up for a summer golf camp, he complains to his older brother, Aaron, and the two come up with a plan. Aaron is claiming to do volunteer work in a local park for the summer, but is really involved in a series of pick up football games that he and his friends call "the league of pain". Wyatt learns the game, and also becomes adept at lying to his parents for the first time.

I love Heldring's other books (Roy Morelli Steps Up to the Plate, Toby Wheeler, Eighth Grade Bench Warmer), so was really glad to see another book. This lives up to the high standards set by Heldring's first two books. Wyatt is flawed but likeable, and it's great to see him grow, even if it means lying to his parents in order to follow his own path. I adored his relationship with Evan-- pitch perfect for middle school. His friendship with Francis was well portrayed-- Wyatt wants to stay friends, but doesn't want to keep being the same kind of person that Francis is. Even Spencer is a bit sympathetic as a character. Great cover, good length-- excellent choice for readers of football fiction.
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