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3.94  ·  Rating details ·  2,081 ratings  ·  419 reviews
The football field is a battlefield

There's an extraordinary price for victory at Oregrove High. It is paid on - and off - the football field. And it claims its victims without mercy - including the most innocent bystanders.

When a violent, steroid-infused, ever-escalating prank war has devastating consequences, an unlikely friendship between a talented but emotionally dama
Published February 9th 2011 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published February 1st 2011)
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Average rating 3.94  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,081 ratings  ·  419 reviews

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Sep 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: 16+
Before beginning, I just want to apologize to anyone who reads this review. It won't really help you decide whether to read this book or not. Despite the fact that I've taken a fair amount of time to collect my thoughts and calm down, my head is still laden with what I've read and I'm unable to express my feelings in the way I'd normally have it. This review is somewhat vague and most of it probably won't mean anything unless you've read this book. So for that, I apologize.

Going in, I'm not sure
This semester I'm taking a physics course and the whole idea of leverage is a cool concept. Oddly enough it makes me see the whole story in a different way. How something on its own may not have the power, but you just add some leverage and man do you see the impact. That great concept is the perfect title for this story.

The story is told by two boys who go to the same high school. Danny is a small kid but works his butt off on being an excellent gymnast. Kurtis is a massive guy that stutters,
Sep 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Leverage. We all search for it at work, home, and life whether we realize it or not. And we all possess leverage whether we realize it or not. It is how we choose to use that power, influence, and leverage that matters. How we act, respond, and move through life that counts.

Leverage by Joshua Cohen is told in two heartbreaking voices—Kurt Brodsky and Danny Meehan. Two young, strong athletes trying to carve out a spot in high school and the future with football and gymnastics. With patience and
Marita Hansen
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, edgy-ya
WOW, WOW, and triple WOW! This is the most intense and powerful book I have ever read, and I have read A LOT. When I heard it was a male version of Speak I thought I'd give it a read, especially since I'm writing something with a similar topic (although a very different story). But, this is so much more than just relating it as a male version. The tension in this book was rippling with more than steroid bound muscles. The build up to the horrible life changing event in the gym was perfectly pace ...more
Patricia (Patricia's Particularity)
It is hard to know where to exactly begin... Joshua C. Cohen's debut novel is anything and everything BUT disappointing. I honestly cannot come up with a negative thing to say about this amazing, outstanding, one of kind, unique novel. There is so much to say about this book that I am going to have to break it down into parts....

To start, a basic overview...
Kurt is the new football star at Oregrove High School. Danny is on the Oregrove gymnastics team. Both boys have a past, full of sorrow and p
Sarah (YA Love)
Review originally posted at Y.A. Love

Joshua C. Cohen is an author to watch! Leverage is an edgy, emotional, gripping debut. It will appeal to those who enjoy sports, but it’s about more than sports. It’s about loyalty, courage, and standing up for what’s right, even when the odds are against you.

Kelly at Stacked has been telling me to read this for months, but I can’t say why I put it off for so long. I’m actually made at myself for waiting so long to read Leverage. When I told my students about
Mar 18, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Nuzaifa - Word Contessa
Jul 22, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Nuzaifa by: Savindi
THE REVIEW - Visit for more reviews.

One of the biggest misconceptions of anabolic steroid usage is that it is solely used by athletes as a performance enhancing drug.

But in fact, half of the users of steroids aren't even athletes. These “mirror athletes” use steroids in order to achieve an “ideal” body. This practice roots from prevalent adolescent body image issues that are often perpetuated by misguided internalized messages in pop culture. Often, boys are obsessed with bulki
Feb 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I am not into sports very much, what drew me to this book were the words in the summary - "emotionally damaged fullback." I wasn't sure if the focus on sports would put me off or not. I'm so glad that I took a chance and read a book that was out of my standard comfort zone because this is one of my favorite books of 2011 so far. What sets it apart is its intensity. Everything in this book is intense. Intense emotions. Intense violence. Intense character development. Intense backstory. Inte ...more
Jan 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
2011 is going to be such a great year for books. I went to the ALA meeting last week and just the sight of this cover reached out and grabbed me. The book did not disappoint, although based on the backcover blurb part of me expected some kind of romance between a football player and a gymnast. God was I wrong, but in a good way. Gut-wrenching drama aptly describes this coming-of-age story about two young men, opposites in so many ways except for their need to uncover the courage inside themselve ...more
Brenda A
Jan 31, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jessica Bierschied
LEVERAGE, by Joshua C. Cohen is not my usual kind of read but in the end it left me inspired and wanting to make a difference. Cohen brought the very real problems of bullying to life almost flawlessly.

When I started this book, I wanted the prank wars that little synopsis promised to begin right away, and I was shocked at the kind of pranks that these high school characters created, they didn't seem real but Cohen's writing sucked you into a story that that gives you so many mixed emotions.

When a feud over weight training room privileges escalates between the gymnastics team and the football team at the high school, a question of morality, ethics, and doing the right thing becomes all encompassing for members of these teams. Danny, a promising gymnast and Kurt, a gifted football player who has seen way too much in his young life, create a bond that gives them the strength to stand up to murderous, lying bullies.

Danny and his teammate, Bruce are witness to a brutal attack on one o
Feb 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely powerful. I haven't cried this much or felt so sick to my stomach since Some Girls Are (which is an excellent readalike). However, the end really bummed me out, which is why this isn't a 5-star. It felt way too cliche, too obvious. Because this kind of stuff doesn't stop.

Full review here:
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Older YA Readers (16 and up)
Cover Gushing Worthiness: have to admit that I prefer the hardcover version over the paperback version which looks like this Leverage by Joshua C. Cohen .For me the hardcover captures the essence of the book perfectly. As you read the book the symbol of the arm with veins protruding becomes much more clearer.

Review: I'm on a roll with reading sports YA books at the moment. I bought Leverage about two weeks ago and decided that I should start reading it because I missed reading sports YA books. Leverage did not let me dow
Karielle at Books à la Mode
Sports fiction will always have a special place in my heart because it combines two of my favorite things: sports and... well... fiction (okay, shut up).

I grew up with Dan Gutman and Mike Lupica, but I think Leverage was probably my first venture into older teen sports fiction, and definitely my first one about football (which, might I add, is my all-time favorite spectator sport). I know by the blurb, it sounds like another Friday Night Lights, another head-butting, sweat-packed story about the
Sherry Thompson
Aug 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Kurt Brodsky is recruited as a junior to attend Oregrove High School by Coach Briggs, who hungers for a state football championship. Kurt has grown up in foster care and has had some very bad experiences in his life, not the least of which is molestation by adults. In fact, at his last group home, Mr. Sandborn, aka “Crud Bucket”, was especially horrendous and evil in his abuse, killing Kurt’s friend, Lamar. Kurt escapes from his problems by lifting weights and becoming stronger, with revenge as ...more
Feb 18, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: contemporary, ya
I honestly don't know where to start. I'm struggling to figure out how to review or even rate this book. The first thing I should probably say is that I've never read a book like Leverage before. I've never read a book that has caused me to physically recoil, frantically trying to erase graphic images out of my mind. Reading a book like Leverage is challenging, like taking a Chuck Norris roundhouse kick to the face without flinching or gasping for air. But the problem is, you can't. Your throat ...more
Aug 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya, realistic-fiction
I'm not normally into sports novels, but I have to admit my curiosity was piqued when I overheard another librarian describing Leverage as one of the most brutal YA reads they had experienced. I've always had an affinity for courageous YA books that tread disturbing little-plumbed territory, and I was proud to see that not only does this book belong in that fine category, but that it's also an excellent read.

Like most good sports fiction, this isn't really a novel about sports---it's more about
Oct 06, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Leverage is one of the books that once you start reading, you can not stop and when you are finished, the book and the books characters stay with you. You will find yourself wanting to share the book with others. You will find yourself screaming at the unjust situations the characters had to endure to finally find salvation, hope and courage.

However, this is not a book to share with everyone. The scenes described in the book are raw and very Intense. This is not a book that I would recommend for
Aug 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars

Leverage is a story told in 2 different POV's by two boys on the opposite spectrum of the high school popularity chain. Kurt comes from a troubled past but becomes the star football player, Danny is a small fraile gymnaist who keeps to himself. Both boys witness a big prank-gone-wrong bullying scene and they try to bury it within themselves so they also don't get tormented.
This is a story of bullying to extremes and the way football is played up in some high schools, I could totally
Om Manghani
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nice book, with an interesting and complex plot. From the start, Cohen was able to capture my attention, and it stayed like this throughout. There were plenty of highs and lows throughout the book, and I enjoyed seeing the resilience of the characters that he was able to create.

The book taught me a lot about fighting for what you believe in. At the start, Kurt and Danny let themselves be hurt, but as time went on, they realized that they best way to fight back was not with their fists, but wi
E. Ardell
Leverage was all right. There are definite gold nuggets within this book that I loved, but weighed down with those nuggets are not just plot holes but reality holes. I will explain what I mean in my actual review, which you will find after this warning...

**Major Spoiler Alert** **Major Spoiler Alert** **Major Spoiler Alert**

**This entire review is a SPOILER. If you don't want to know the plot of the story, don't read this, just know that I thought Leverage was okay, but it's not something that I
Oct 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book name is leverage and the authors name is Joshua C. Cohen. I think the author's purpose was to show people that teamwork is important and that tough times will come along. Like this guy named kurt never met his real parents and he lives with his foster mom but he gets really happy, read the book and find out what makes him happy during this time. I think the theme is winning and working to do that. That’s what I think the true theme is. A comparison that i would compare this book would b ...more
Lindsay Coppens
Sep 14, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The overall topic of bullying to the extreme could be a compelling one for young adult readers, and I like concept of the two narrative perspectives (a physically and emotionally damaged football player with a rough exterior but gentle heart and a male gymnast who constantly feels he has something to prove), but this book was so extreme and emotionally flat that it never felt real and it definitely felt out of date even though it was written in 2011. In fact, I checked the publication date more ...more
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is so painful to read. It’s life-changing in a terrible way, but I think it needs to be read, and discussed in order to make the change the world needs. Unfortunately this book is based on several true incidents that have happened in the last two decades. WARNING: EXTREMELY graphic and difficult to get through. Several times I had to put the book down because it hurt so much to keep reading it.
(My reviews are intended for my own info as a language arts teacher: they serve as notes and reflections for teaching and recommending to students. Therefore, spoilers may be present but will be hidden.)

SUMMARY: Whew is this book intense! My apologies if this review is less than coherent; there was a lot going on in Leverage, and I'm still mulling over much of it.

Joshua C. Cohen's novel is told in first person point of view from two different, alternating perspectives. First there is Danny. Dann
The Short Version:
Gritty, intense and emotional, Leverage is a striking blend of friendship, bullying, and coming of age. With two stunningly well developed male protagonists and a setting that is easy for any reader to relate to and understand, there are some poignant and gutting truths presented throughout, both blatantly and subtly. Though upper YA in content and language, and holding some scenes that are hard to stomach, Leverage holds nothing back when it comes to realism and impact.

The Ext
Kelly Garwood

Cohen, J. (2011). Leverage. New York, NY: Dutton Books.

Genre: Sports

Award(s): N/A

Format: book

Selection process:
Nilsen, A. P. (Ed.). (2013). Literature for today’s young adults. Boston, MA: Pearson (p. 242).


Danny Meehan is a high school gymnast, excelling in the high-bar. He is small in size, sticks with his gymnast teammates for friends, and hopes to earn a full-ride sports scholarship to a college. Kurt Brodsky is a transfer student from a rough school, being recruited for
Melanie Goodman
Danny is small, but powerful. His diminutive size may keep others in the high school hierarchy from taking him seriously, but in the gymnastics world Danny is well on his way to the top. As a sophomore, he already has his eye on championships and a full-ride scholarship. Danny trains at school, during the off season, and at every optional Saturday practice. What Danny lacks in size he makes up for in will power and dedication.

Kurt is a giant. As a fullback on the football team, he is the not-so-
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Aiossa's Senior 5...: Book review Number 4 1 3 Dec 18, 2012 01:25PM  
Drake 1: Leverage Review 2 11 Nov 26, 2012 05:56AM  
Edgy YA: Leverage 4 37 Aug 11, 2012 11:16PM  
Worst ending ever? (partial spoilers) 2 21 Apr 23, 2012 08:41AM  

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Joshua C. Cohen began writing "Leverage" after reading a news account of a horrific attack by a group of high school seniors on their fellow underclassmen. When the victims reluctantly came forward, instead of receiving offers of help, they were ostracized by the surrounding community for sullying the reputation of the school and causing a cancellation of the football season. Joshua's fascination ...more
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“Being a hero usually isn't much fun. It's terrifying, most of the time, right up until the point you make it out safe. It's being scared to do the right thing and doing it anyway.” 13 likes
“On any given day you have the chance to be a hero or a victim, predator or prey. Most times, circumstances are beyond your control. Other times, you got a choice but you think about it too much and you freeze up. Sometime, though, you're forced to react and it's all instinct. May not make a damn bit of difference in a bad situation. But sometimes instinct squeezes the good out of you, forces you to be a hero before you even realize it.” 9 likes
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