A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this is a complex story involving family secrets and the lengths that some families will go to in order to protect them. There is one party where teens drink beer and there are a couple of minor fights, but overall this is a mild book with a good message. There is some sexual innuendo, with a couple of brief kissing scenes. A main character dies unexpectedly but not graphically.
What's the story?
Marcus Jordan is the new kid in town, hoping to make a name for himself as quarterback on the all-star football team. The close-knit team, led by returning starting QB Troy Popovich, is reluctant to let him into their circle. When Marcus befriends Charlie, a mischievous man in his 50s who crashes Marcus' solo practices at the local park, he has no idea that Charlie was a celebrated NFL linebacker. He also has no idea that Charlie is Troy's father and that the Popovich family is hiding a secret from the entire town. Marcus and Troy butt heads over everything from football to Charlie to the head cheerleader, Troy's ex and Marcus' new love interest.
Is it any good?
POP goes beyond being a good read for sports fans. Yes, there's a lot of football action -- the team deals with their conflicts while trying to remain undefeated for a second straight season -- but the action is nothing compared to the page-turning drama of Charlie and his secret.
Charlie and Marcus share a special, if confusing, bond from the first time they meet at the local park. Thinking of his absent father, "Comrade Stalin," Marcus is a little confused by Charlie's playfulness and seeming lack of responsibility. The confusion gives way to amazement when he sees firsthand the awesome strength and agility that is more common in a man half Charlie's age. Charlie is thrilled to play football (and maybe pull a few pranks on the town curmudgeon) with "Mac," and it quickly becomes apparent that they are more important to each other than they realized.
Talk to your kids about ...
Troy and his family think they know what's best for Charlie because they're family. Does family always know best? Why was it hard for them to see the truth about Charlie?
Why do you think it was so important to Marcus that Charlie be at the EBU homecoming game? Why do you think it was so important to Charlie's family that he not be there? Do you think Charlie's few moments in the spotlight were worth it for him or was it too much of a risk?
Do you think Charlie's family's decision to keep his issue a secret was for Charlie's sake or for the family's sake? Do you think they should have been more open about it or do you think it was a good idea to keep it a secret?
For kids who love football and friendship tales
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.