This book review is part of series of reviews written by students at St. Margaret’s Episcopal School for their 7th grade English classes.
David Klass, renowned author and screenwriter, has written multiple books specifically for young adults. He specializes in creating teenage characters that are searching for answers on difficult issues relating to pressures of society and individual worth. He brings his characters alive and you are drawn into their troubles along with them. If you are looking for a book that dives into the reality of teenage life at high school, Home of the Braves by David Klass is the book for you.
Bullies, jocks versus nerds, first crushes and figuring out who you really are fill this novel with multiple themes. Joe Brickman, the main character, attends Lawndale High School in a typical New Jersey town. As captain of the soccer and wrestling team during his senior year, Joe feels that this is the year to make a statement. He is the starting sweeper of the Varsity soccer team and he finally feels ready to ask out his closest friend, Kris. Things begin to crumple all around when Antonio Silva arrives as a transfer student from Brazil and brings about conflict and anger in Joe and the school.
Tension starts early between Joe and Antonio when Antonio and Kris start going out. This is Joe’s best friend, and “the thought of the two of them together was killing [him]” (71), especially since he was finally getting up the nerve to ask Kris out himself. To make matters ever worse, Joe’s coach asks Joe to have Antonio be co-captain of the soccer team. Joe is furious with his coach’s recommendation, since he has worked so long to achieve the captain’s armband, and Antonio could receive it so quickly. Joe feels threatened and angry, “The day he puts on a captain’s armband is the day I take mine off” (160), and then he walks away. Joe’s negative feelings for Antonio keep increasing, and Klass does a superb job of delving into Joe’s thoughts and feelings on the matter.
In addition, not only is Antonio making Joe frustrated, but he is also causing internal conflict within the school. There is an agreement between the students at Lawndale High School that they must “bow down” to the football jocks, who control the school. Both Ed “he mouse,” Joe’s best friend, and Antonio refuse to obey this “rule.” This causes the Jocks to take action and violence erupts at the school. The Administration then enacts a “Zero Tolerance” policy at the school, which frustrates and angers many of the students.
Finally, things start to look up for both Joe and the school when their soccer team makes the play-offs. Antonio has been a key player in bringing the school team so far and many are ready to forget the past. However, at the last minute, a twist in the plot occurs and things change dramatically. You will have to read the book to see how it ends.
Home of the Braves keeps the reader engaged throughout the entire novel. It is a well-written book with suspense, violence, and romantic drama that appeals to numerous age levels. I would recommend this book for middle school and high school aged students who are looking for an action packed book.
-Chase R., 7th grade