The Loft's Reviews > Pop

Pop by Gordon Korman
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Dec 02, 09

bookshelves: ya-humor, ya-sports
Read in November, 2009

"Pop" by Gordon Korman is the story of Marcus Jordan, a talented quarterback new to town, who, weeks before school begins, becomes fast friends with a famous 50-something retired NFL linebacker named Charlie Popovich. Nicknamed the "King of Pop" in his heyday, "Pop" being the word for his signature crushing, forceful, all-out body-blows, Charlie tackles Marcus as hard as he can, no pads, teaching the 16-year old how to take punishing hits and how to give them, too. “I love the Pop!” Charlie tells Marcus. “Sometimes you actually hear it go Pop!” After a few weeks of NFL-caliber training Marcus is an unmatched force of nature on the field.

Only, something about Charlie is off. Though he remains impressively athletic, the hulking linebacker seems to have the impulses and wandering mind of a child. He shows up to practice when it suits him, he pulls an elaborate prank on a local store owner (involving bugs, lots of them), and, when Marcus dislocates his shoulder one afternoon, Charlie dashes off, leaving Marcus on his own to "pop" his appendage back in place by smashing himself into a granite sculpture, causing a pain so sharp he blacks out. What's up with this dude?

That’s precisely what Charlie’s family doesn’t want Marcus, or anyone, to know. But, Marcus is determined to be honest about Charlie’s condition, to treat the man with respect, and he goes to extreme lengths to help this former football star experience one last moment of greatness.

Full of pranks, adventures, and wince-inducing injuries, Pop is a fast-paced read ideal for young football fans. There's some good on and off-field conflict between Marcus and Charlie’s son, Troy, also a star QB, and a real passion for the game written in throughout. And, considering the recent studies linking repeated head trauma experienced by pro-football players and early on-set dementia, Korman's book is timely. Gr 6 and up. (Jarrett, The Loft)
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