Parents' Guide to

Losers Bracket

By Joly Herman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Families and worlds collide in gritty story of a foster kid.

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Raw, witty, and straightforward, veteran author Chris Crutcher nails the voice of a teen foster kid who's reconciling her past with her future. Though her world is chaotic, thanks to great therapists and caseworkers, a sweet foster brother and foster mom, Annie Boots manages her fractured family life pretty decently. She's saved by her humor and her ability to separate herself from the addicts and narcissists around her. It helps that she's a great athlete and can take out her frustration on the basketball court -- which might be her ticket into a decent college. Annie's a salty and relevant heroine: She's a big reader, has good friends, and is not afraid to be different.

Losers Bracket vividly captures the kind of life lived by many Americans caught in the tentacles of "the system." There may be a few too many references to heroes that the average reader has probably never heard of, such as record-breaking U.S. long-distance open-water swimmer Lynne Cox, who's mentioned over and over. Other than that tic, the book is fast-paced, and the realism is enjoyable because Annie is an underdog whose successes are worthy of applause.

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