Monday, January 22, 2007

Raiders Night

Lipsyte, Robert. 2006. RAIDERS NIGHT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060599464 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

Nearmont High School is like many other high schools—football is king and football players are royalty who can do no wrong. Matt, co-captain of the Nearmont Raiders, is being recruited by major football universities and seems to have it all—an assured future, girls offering casual sex, invitations to wild parties, all the dope, steroids, and alcohol he could want. He also has a father who lives vicariously through his successes and pushes him relentlessly. When Chris, a new sophomore, makes the team, he incurs the jealousy of Matt’s co-captain who assaults the “new guy” with a baseball bat. The team keeps quiet about it, as do the coaches when they find out what happens. Matt, though, is bothered by what has happens and cooperates with the investigation but not in time to prevent even more violence.

This hard-hitting, gritty novel raises many issues pulled from the headlines on the television and in the newspapers and questions what really occurs in schools where sports is king. Steroid use, homophobia, athletic arrogance, and the obsession with winning are all dealt with in a realistic manner.

Because of the graphic content in the novel, it might be a difficult one to use in a classroom situation but it would be a great choice for a high school book club. Its depiction of the “football rules” mentality found in so many schools and the issues it raises such as homophobia, steroid use, favoritism for athletes, and parents obsessed with their child’s success could result in some deep and interesting discussions.

Other books for young adults dealing with high school sports:
Garden, Nancy. ENDGAME. ISBN 0152054162
Gratz, Alan. SAMURAI SHORTSTOP. ISBN 0803730756
Ritter, John. UNDER THE BASEBALL MOON. ISBN 0399236236

By Janet Hilbun

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