Friday, August 8, 2014

Unstoppable by Tim Green

Ok. I have to admit it. I like Tim Green and I know my students devour his books once they start. Tim writes about kids playing football, a great combo (two of my favorite things). In this book, initially I was afraid it was going to be a formulaic story with a mild twist, but I was mistaken.  Harrison is a foster child and had a rough, rough life. The story picks up in Harrison's life as a 13 year old who is large for his size and working on a farm where he is mistreated and neglected.  We also learn that he loves football, and although he never was able to play, he feels like he would be great. Through a bit of bad luck, he's removed and placed elsewhere. I'm not going to reveal too much but he does get to play football in his new home until another twist. This twist took my breath away. Impressively, even the writing and pace seemed to reflect the haze and confusion the characters were experiencing. The voice of Harrison is honest and developed well, although Green seems to gloss over the real work it must take to earn a person who has experienced that much heartache and trauma. He managed to make a student with a scary background seem so misunderstood and maligned that Green created strong empathy in his reader (me). I was rooting for Harrison the whole way and, surprise, surprise, I did cry in a couple places. Interesting story and could appeal to boys and girls alike, but they need to have a basic understanding of football to really understand some of the nuances of the story. Because of some violence, I’m not quite sure what grades to recommend it...depends on what kids can handle. I’d say 7th grade and up but younger could certainly appreciate this story, but have to be a little less sensitive to violence and trauma in novels.