Kendall is football town, and Jerry Downing is the high school's star quarterback, working to redeem himself after he nearly killed a girl in a drunk driving accident last year. Carla Jenson, lead reporter for the school newspaper's sports section, has recruited Jerry to co-author a blog chronicling the season from each of their perspectives. When Jerry's best friend on the team takes a hit too hard and gets hurt, Carla wonders publicly if injury in the game comes at too high a cost in a player's life—but not everyone in Kendall wants to hear it...David Klass and Perri Klass's Second Impact is an action-packed story will resonate with readers who have been following recent news stories are football injuries.
ebook, 336 pages
Expected publication: August 6th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Source: Publisher in exchange for an unbiased review
For Jerry, his senior year has been a second chance to redeem himself. After a wild night of drunken partying and driving, he ends up in an accident. He loses his spot as starting quarterback and possibly his entire future. Luckily, he claws his way back. It is the start of his senior year, and Jerry is now contributing to the school's blog. He is reporting on his football games along with Carla. What he doesn't expect is to suffer a head injury and then watch as a fellow teammate is also clocked in the head. Carla attempts to learn more about the troubling facts of head trauma and she draws Jerry into her research. Is winning the game more important than the safety of a teammate?
What I Liked:
- I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about the troubling trend we are seeing with head trauma in all sports. This book brings forth some research and data on concussions and head injuries that really makes you stop and think. The information is unsettling, and it makes you stop and think about the safety of football players and the future of the sport. I have a two year old son, and I am not certain that I would want him to play football after reading this book. This book raises some thought provoking questions, and I am sure it will help generate some discussion.
- I liked that Jerry was fighting his way back. After his disastrous drinking and driving episode during his junior year, he is incredibly grateful to be playing football again. He almost lost everything and he appreciates the second chance. I appreciated his character growth, he is now more humble and contrite while before he had the quarterback swagger and was under the delusion that he was untouchable. He certainly comes along way. I especially liked his final decision at the end when the game was on the line. It was not any easy choice, and I applaud him for it.
- Carla is another interesting character. She is a go getter and a bit of an overachiever. She is intelligent and driven and is determined to make a name for herself. When confronted with the powers that be when it comes to football, she refuses to back down and instead makes some questionable choices. Sure, she does not make the best decisions, but you have to admire her tenacity and courage. I especially appreciate the way that she continued to dig to uncover the truth behind head trauma.
- I liked the way this book exposes the die hard football mentality that sometimes gets in the way of the doing the right thing. In some schools, football is everything and often sacrifices are made that aren't always in the best interest of the rest of the students to ensure that football shines. There are some ugly truths in this one when it comes down to high school football programs, and you are left wondering at what point is the game more important? Is winning a championship worth sacrificing someone's long term health? Is it safe to even be playing high school football the way it is now? Read the book and make your own decisions.
And The Not So Much:
- This book is told in blog posts and emails. As a blogger, I was excited to see that this book utilized blog posts to narrate the story, but I must admit that it ends up making the story not believable. The reason being is that these blog posts start reading like a regular book with full conversations and all of that. There are even some details that I thought were too personal to put into a blog. While the idea is great, the execution falters. It would have been far more realistic to stick with a true blog approach and then perhaps utilize journals or even incorporate a traditional book format for the in between posts. Having the entire book told in blog posts and emails just doesn't work.
- I was disappointed that the whole scenario with Jerry's drunk driving episode was a bit glossed over. There is a bit of flashback as Jerry recounts some of the events that happen that evening, but once he gets to the accident, it cuts out. I was never clear as to what happened to the girl in his car. She was injured, but how severe were her injuries? There is some further detail on the repercussions and the aftermath, but I personally thought that this storyline needed much more development. Teenage drinking and driving is such an important issue, and I think the authors failed to make an impact.
- The situation with Carla and her principal gets rather ugly at the end. I was disturbed by his threats and I was wondering if that was even legal for him to threaten to submit untruths about her to her college choices. Can a school administrator really sabotage someone's future like that? Furthermore, Carla's actions also left me wondering about the legalities. What are the legal repercussions for taping someone without permission and then posting it on the internet? Obviously, there are far reaching consequences for this type of behavior and I wished that the authors made it clear what could happen if you engaged in this type of activity. I think this is an important part of the story that was not addressed.
- Finally, I so appreciated that this book draws attention to the troublesome topic of head injuries in not just football but other sports as well. I would love to see some resources at the end of the book for people looking to do more investigating on head trauma.
Second Impact while not a perfect read, brings forth some troubling truths when it comes to the predominant football culture in our country. Head trauma sustained repeatedly while playing football, can lead to detrimental health issues down the line. This book explores the importance of educating ourselves on head injuries. You will ask yourself at the end, do I want someone I know playing football? I hope this book starts some discussion and that more people become aware of the danger.
“That’s one of the reasons I made you show me your room; I think about how we’re all still living in our childhood rooms. Right now, you can look at them and see something related to the shells which shaped us as we grew. But someone who meets Jerry Downing next year and looks at your college room isn’t necessarily going to see any of that.”
“You have this kid and he’s the quarterback and he’s a star and it’s all good, and then one night the phone rings and you wonder, Do we really know our kid at all? And then you wonder, Is his whole life wrecked? And you stand by him, but maybe you don’t actually feel safe again.”
“Why did I get behind the wheel that night? Why didn’t I let someone else drive, or just stay at the party? I was the quarterback, the go-to guy, the leader of the pack, and things like alcohol that derailed other, lesser people had not effect on me. I was invulnerable, immune, all -powerful, and so when I said get in or get left behind, they piled in.”
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own and I was not compensated. All quotations are taken from an ARC and may vary from the final version.