Came back to the room, opened the patio doors so I could listen to the surf. Picked up POP by Gordon Korman (HarperCollins, August 2009) and finished it off before turning in for the night. No cover to show, alas. Will scan it when I return home next week. Thanks, Gordon and Harper for sending the ARC.
Marcus has moved in the middle of summer to a new town. His mother has taken a job at a small town newspaper which will provide her with income while she does her research for a book. Marcus is at loose ends but heads off to 3 Alarm Park (named after a chili cookoff event) to practice his passing game. It is not much fun having to retrieve his own football time after time. But suddenly Marcus is joined by a middle aged man who helps Marcus not only pass better but makes him impervious to tackles from opposing players. Charlie seems a bit strange, but Marcus is happy to have his expertise. Imagine his surprise when Marcus discovers Charlie's identity: The King of Pop" Charlie Popovich, a former NFL player. Charlie is also the father of the QB for Marcus' school team. Troy Popovich had an undefeated season last year and the coach does not plan to fiddle with the team at all. Marcus is resigned to riding the bench or playing other positions on the team.
Of course, there are complications a plenty. And some great good humor as well (after all, this is Gordon Korman). But there are some really serious issues here, too. Charlie's erratic behavior, Troy's antagonism toward Marcus (aggravated when Troy's ex-girlfriend Alyssa latches onto Marcus), and trying to sustain a winning football season provide for an absorbing read. Marcus is a beautifully realized character, one who grows and changes over the course of the novel.