I really enjoyed this story despite the fact that I’m a football ignoramus (for which I’m very appreciative of the glossary that the author included).
With the constant football references and the context of teamwork and working towards the championship, this book obviously caters to the sports’ fans. For that reason as well as the fact that the story is told from Warren’s point of view, I’d thought the book would appeal to a very limited audience. However, my attitude shifted as the story progressed and Warren commits himself to hiding his secret. For one, I thought that the author did a good job of weaving in themes of self-discipline, dedication to the given job, good sportsmanship, living with one’s lie, etc. without coming across as preachy. I felt that there was genuine, substantial character development on Warren’s part and that the author successfully used Warren’s father and the coach as strong secondary characters to support that development.
The context of games leading up to the championships was a good frame in which to set the story and keep it at its length. The pacing was well set; I thought that given the short length of the book, the author realistically conveyed the gnawing guilt that Warren felt growing within in, to the point that I totally empathized with him (and didn’t want to read on!). I also thought that the outcome of Warren’s confession was realistic; he did cheat, but he confessed not only to his community but (it’s assumed) publicly via that news reporter with the smartphone recorder. Secretly, I thought the revelation of the coach having found out and forgiven was a bit of a cop-out; however, it wasn’t enough to ruin the story for me and, as a reader, I’m glad that things resolved themselves amicably.
Drawbacks: I think that the non-sports fan will get lost in all the game lingo and descriptions. If readers don’t understand the scoring system, they won’t find the play-by-play of the game scenes very exciting. I also think that the other characters–Bridget, Brad, and any other kids (did Warren have friends at all?)–were weak.
Overall, a great short book for anyone interested in football and/or sports in general.