Thursday, December 13, 2012

Leverage (A Sports Novel) by Joshua C. Cohen

This is a very dense, not easy to read novel.  It has in it, questionable recruiting of football players, money exchanging hands, steroid use, drinking parties, brutal hazing, even more brutal bullying resulting in a suicide, child abuse and lousy foster homes. I think that's everything. 
So, Kurt once implicated in a murder but cleared is recruited to play on an already winning football team.  Money is given his foster mom and given to him to keep up the good work, keep him well fed.  the best players on the team all take d-bol to bulk up further though they really don't need to.  Money is being diverted from other athletic teams for the football field and a state of the art jumbo tron.  The gymnasts have always shared the weight training room with the football players.  This time however, the footballers take offense.  A challenge takes place which gymnasts win, which embarrasses the footballers.  The captains seek revenge by stuffing a dead squirrel in a gymnast's sports locker, gymnasts retaliate for that offense.  Problems escalate with no one talking to coaches til the captains of the football team catch two gymnasts, duct tape one up and attack the other while yet another remains unseen in the equipment room.  Kurt comes to the rescue.  He had been working out with the gymnasts, after coach gone.  The beating was kept secret, but the victims and Kurt are made ill by the events and miss several practices, the beaten kid commits suicide.  There are more attempts at revenge with more injuries until finally too many kids are at risk of being killed.  Kurt, for instance is taken hunting by his football team captains and has to dodge bullets.  Kurt, Danny the kid hiding in the equipment room and an unexpected friend find a way to end the torment, reveal the secrets not meant to be kept so that there is no doubt in the minds of the coaches that the truth has been told.
I had to stop reading this after every few pages because there was so much brutality in this book.  Hazing of the new football team members was shaving their heads bloody.  Kurt, foster child had boiling water dumped on him, was cut with a scissors and duct taped with another foster kid in a garbage can.  The other kid died.  The beating Ronnie, who committed suicide was very vividly described.  The son of a town cop was beaten by his father as was Kurt.  I want to believe that the world is not mostly brutal like this book with only slivers of good.  I hope I am right.  All these thinks undoubtedly go on, we do hear of them, just not all in the same place at the same time.  Just my say.

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