Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen

Leverage The football field is a battlefield

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on - and off - the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy - including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school's salvation.

Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.

My Review:

This was an amazing book.  The two different male POVs were well-done.  I liked the two main characters, but there were a few other characters that I got very mad at throughout the book.  The bullying that this book shows is very brutal.


One of the main characters is Danny.  He is a gymnast and physically very strong, but he gets picked on for being small.  The varsity football team likes to harass the gymnasts and cross country runners in the dressing room.  To avoid them, Danny always tries to get to the gymnastics team room as quickly as possible.  Partway through the book, Danny's teammate Ronnie gets attacked by three football players.  Danny has always thought Ronnie was weak.  Sometimes people would mistake him for Ronnie since they were both small, and Danny didn't like that.  Danny witnesses Ronnie's attack, yet he doesn't do anything to stop that.  He was probably scared that they would attack him too if he defended Ronnie.  And they probably would have done that.  After the attack, Ronnie kills himself, and Danny feels guilty because he knew about the attack. 

Kurt is the other main character.  He is new to the school and joins the football team, but he doesn't bully the gymnasts.  He becomes fascinated by what they can do.  He wants to learn how to do a back handspring in the end zone.  He has experienced abuse in the past, and he has a stutter.  He now lives with a foster mom.  When Ronnie is being attacked, he comes into to the room and stops the attack.  He punches his teammates, the ones who were attacking him.  He strikes up a friendship with Danny and the gymnasts during the book.  I didn't like his decision to take the steroids, and I hope he stopped taking them after the book ended.

Some of the bullying in this book is extremely brutal.  The three captains of the football team (Scott, Mike, and Tom) love to torment the gymnasts.  They think the gymnasts are small and weak.  A prank war starts between the two teams when the gymnasts go to the weight room.  Their coach decided that they should train there, too.  Some of the pranks seem harmless, but the pranks become violent and dangerous.  The three captains brutally attack the smallest gymnast, Ronnie, and he takes his own life.  The football players who attacked him feel no remorse because they feel he was weak.  The pranks continue until someone eventually tells the football coaches what the captains did.

If you like darker YA contemporary from the male POV, read this book.


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