Clay is a quarterback's dream. When he zips across the field, arms outstretched, waiting for the ball to sail into his hands, there's no denying him the catch. Like most Texans, Clay is never more at home than when playing football. And his coach, a former star player for the Dallas Cowboys, is just like a second father.
But as the football season kicks off, Clay begins to notice some odd behavior from his coach--lapses in his memory and strange mood swings. The conclusion is painful, but obvious: Coach Cooper is showing side effects of the many concussions he sustained during his playing days. As Clay's season wears on, it becomes clear that the real victory will be to help his coach walk onto that famous star logo in the middle of Cowboys Field one last time--during a Thanksgiving day ceremony honoring him and his former Super Bowl-winning teammates.
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!