Author: Gordon Korman
From Shelfari, "When Marcus moves to a new town in the dead of summer, he doesn't know a soul. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with an older man. Charlie is a charismatic prankster—and the best football player Marcus has ever seen. He can't believe his good luck when he finds out that Charlie is actually Charlie Popovich, or "the King of Pop," as he had been nicknamed during his career as an NFL linebacker. But that's not all. There is a secret about Charlie that his family is desperate to hide. When Marcus begins school, he meets the starting quarterback on the team: Troy Popovich. Right from the beginning, Marcus and Troy disagree—about football, about Troy's ex-girlfriend, Alyssa, but most of all about what's good for Charlie. Marcus is betting that he knows what's best for the King of Pop. And he is willing to risk everything to help his friend."
I have read many of Gordon Korman's other books and have always enjoyed his writing and this novel is no exception. I found myself totally engrossed in this book. I especially liked the character of Marcus Jordan. A high school student that has just recently moved to a new town. In his pursuit to make some new friends, he goes to the local park to throw the pigskin around. It is at the park where he meets Charlie, a former NFL player. After several meetings with Charlie at the park, Marcus realizes that there is more to Charlie than meets the eye.
Marcus's relationship with Charlie is the main focus of the book, but in Marcus's pursuit to find out what exactly is wrong with Charlie, he forms a tenuous relationship with Charlie's children as well. Charlie's son and daughter just happen to be Marcus's classmates and they have more than a few of there own secrets to hide.
Gordon Korman should be proud of his writing in this book and in particular his exploration of the effects of head trauma caused as a result of repeated hits. This book has a message for both students who play sports and the parents and coaches that encourage them to play. You may not like the message that Korman sends, but reading this book will definitely put things into a whole different light.