The Million-Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica (2009)

6455553Football fiction with depth and heart.

Recommended grade level: 5-8

Pages: 244 (for ISBN 9780399246265)

Genre(s) and keywords: realistic fiction, sports fiction

Tone/Style: relatable

Pace: moderate

Topics: football, illness in friends, contests, pressure to perform, financial difficulty

Themes: perseverance, overcoming mental and physical blocks, change, finding relief in sports, friendship

Summary: What would you do with a million dollars, if you were thirteen?

Nate Brodie is nicknamed “Brady” not only for his arm, but also because he’s the biggest Tom Brady fan. He’s even saved up to buy an autographed football. And when he does, he wins the chance for something he’s never dreamed of—to throw a pass through a target at a Patriots game for one million dollars.

Nate should be excited. But things have been tough lately. His dad lost his job and his family is losing their home. It’s no secret that a million dollars would go a long way. So all Nate feels is pressure, and just when he needs it most, his golden arm begins to fail him. Even worse, his best friend Abby is going blind, slowly losing her ability to do the one thing she loves most—paint. Yet Abby never complains, and she is Nate’s inspiration. He knows she’ll be there when he makes the throw of a lifetime. (Source)

Who will like this book?: Sports action interwoven with personal and interpersonal challenges make this a book likely to appeal to both casual and hardcore football fans.

Who won’t like this book?: Readers with no interest in football may feel their eyes glaze over during long play-by-play descriptions of games. These scenes are difficult to understand without existing knowledge of how football is played.

Other comments: Contrary to the reputation of sports (at least in the minds of bookworms like me), this is quite a complicated book, with multiple plot threads involving personal growth and overcoming internal and external difficulties.

Sequel(s):

What to read next: Any of Lupica’s books should work for readers seeking a blend of personal drama and play by play sports action. For football fans, try The Underdogs and QB 1. Tim Green’s Football Genius series will also appeal to fans of the game.For older middle schoolers looking for something serious, try Gym Candy by Carl Deuker.

-Kylie

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