A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some facts about the NFL, its history, famous players and teams. Players and coaches often use football terms and discuss football ideas. Characters talk a lot about football (strategy, plays, runs and routes, moves, drills, concepts).
Strong positive themes throughout include family, teamwork, friendship, integrity, and gratitude. Courage in the face of scary situations. Learning about what it means to be a team, a friend, and a better person.
Positive Role Models
Benjamin is a nice kid and future star, if a bit unsure at first. He learns how to become a leader and a better role model for the rest of his teammates. Thea is an unconventionally brash girl who is powerful, tough, and incredibly talented. Other football players are variously supportive and positive. The coach is happy and brave in facing his diagnosis and condition. He maintains dignity throughout and inspires his players.
The cast is diverse, and they all live lavish, upscale lifestyles. Thea, the one girl character, is strong, tough, resilient, talented, and confident.
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Violence & Scariness
A boy cuts off one of a girl's braids with scissors. A fair amount of football and on-the-field violence include hard tackles, kicked shins, and pushing and shoving. Players vomit on the field often. One boy gets his finger snapped inside a player's facemask. Some kids reference a famous football player who took his own life. A man falls down a few times and each time injures himself. Kids egg a house.
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Some instances of "butt" and "fart."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Final Season is an action-packed story about football, family, teamwork, and friendship. The story centers on a family that lives and breathes football, as the dad is the coach and an ex-NFL player. There's a lot of football talk and on-the-field drama, a fair amount of hard tackles, kicked shins, and brutal training sessions. Players often vomit through their helmets. A boy meanly cuts off one of a girl's braids with scissors. All the kids live lavish lifestyles, with Mercedes Benzes and Xbox consoles and jet skis part of their daily lives. Characters often refer to real-world football references, teams, players, and brands. There's no strong language except for a few instances of "butt" and "fart."
Is It Any Good?
The story is a little predictable but still satisfies with fun characters, heartfelt moments, and detailed football action. Final Season also asks about the safety of football and whether kids should continue to play the sport. This is a bold and risky move, given readers who love football will likely love this book most. Thankfully, the football here is accurately described, discussed, narrated, and analyzed in terms of strategy. For non-football fans, some football action sequences might be too long and detailed.
Some readers might find the romance storyline a little forced, the number of times kids vomit disconcerting, and the violence of hard tackles tough to stomach. Also, the kids often retreat to "their 5 Xbox consoles" in their Mercedes "G-Wagons" and then go jet skiing, which may seem awfully high-end for many readers. But the players, teamwork, and the positivity of Ben's dad in the face of his ALS all contribute to an incredibly positive and winning story.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.