Published February 2011 by Dutton
Narrated by Kirby Heyborne & Paul Michael Garcia | Blackstone Audio
425 pages | 13:22:00 duration
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Genre: YA Contemporary
Rating: LOVED IT
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, Leverageilluminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes. (Source: Goodreads)
Unfortunately I listened to this book almost two months ago and hadn’t been able to sit down and review it before now. Since it was an audiobook, I don’t have all my little flags tucked in the book to remind me of names and exact situations. But I couldn’t just not share it with you, it is too good and too important not to share.
Cohen does a remarkable job really getting down to the gritty truth of bullying and why people, especially guys, don’t speak out. A handful of football players perpetrate some of the most heinous bullying I’ve ever read about toward some gymnasts. None of the witnesses speak out. They are afraid of the victim’s weakness and failure and that it might rub off on them. And that knowledge eats and erodes them from the inside out. The audiobook is so well done and so powerful that I had to set it aside for a while. I was emotionally spent and just couldn’t bear for anything else bad to happen to these boys.
This book is so rich and it reaches well beyond the events that revolve around the bullying incidents. It also shows the good and the bad of participating in athletics, something bigger than themselves. It goes into steroid use. It touches on some of the failures of foster care and group homes and parenting in general. The silver lining–thankfully there are some wonderful people who are there in the end to support these young men and help set things right.
When the strong really are little, they bully. Will you sit on the sideline or do something about it?