Football Hero by Tim Green
New York: HarperCollins, 2008
4 out of 5
Ty Lewis can't believe it when Coach V recruits him for the football team. This is Ty's big chance to prove how fast he is on the field, get a fresh start in a new school, and be like his older brother, Thane "Tiger" Lewis, who's about to graduate from college and is being courted by the NFL.
But Ty's guardian, Uncle Gus, won't let him play. Uncle Gus needs Ty to scrub floors and toilets for his cleaning business while he cooks up gambling schemes with the local mob boss, a man called "Lucy."
When Lucy hears just how famous Ty's older brother is, he becomes suddenly friendly. Are the questions Lucy is asking Ty really about fantasy football...or is the Mafia using Ty to get valuable insider info from his superstar brother? Desperately worried, Ty must come up with a plan to save Thane's football career--and, ultimately, his life.
Author of the New York Times bestselling Football Genius, former NFL player Tim Green will have you on the edge of your seat rooting for Ty--and enjoying an upclose look at what it's like to be inside the NFL.
So Ty is this ordinary, poor, scrawny kid who gets invited to play football. He's super-fast and has great hands. Uncle Gus has other plans for Ty's hands--he has Ty join his cleaning business and Ty gets bathroom duty (no pun intended). When Lucy takes an interest in Ty and the information Ty has access to, Ty is able to bargain for the opportunity to play but gets mixed up in more than he ever imagined.
Ty is only kid I can think of who actually measures up to his older sibling. Most titles with this story line are about discovering how special they are in spite of a successful sibling, but with these two, football is in their genes. Even though I'm not the world's biggest football fan, I enjoyed Ty's successes and felt empathy for his troubles.
Even though this is a football book there are many other things that go on. Yes, there are games and practices and football jargon, but there's also the story line with Lucy, Thane's entrance into the world of celebrity as a starter for an NFL team, and the two brothers are still coping with the loss of their parents.
Overall this is an enjoyable read and the next time I get asked about a good book for middle grade, I'll lead the parent to the Tim Green books.