Felix -Red- O'Sullivan's world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town and his high school with it. Read more...
Felix -Red- O'Sullivan's world is crumbling around him: the mine that employs most of town is on the brink of closing, threatening to shutter the entire town and his high school with it. But Red's got his own burdens to bear: his older brother, Bobby, died in the war, and he's been struggling to follow in his footsteps ever since. That means assuming Bobby's old position as quarterback and leading the last-ever Muckers team to the championship.
But the only way for the hardscrabble Muckers to win State is to go undefeated and tackle their biggest rival, Phoenix United, which would be something of a miracle. Luckily, miracles can happen all the time on the field.
- ISBN-13: 9780375867545
- ISBN-10: 0375867546
- Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers
- Publish Date: October 2013
- Page Count: 288
- Reading Level: Ages 12-UP
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-09-23
- Reviewer: Staff
Former ESPN newscaster and Little Joe author Wallace presents an unsettling yet inspiring novel, based on true events, about a racially mixed high-school football team’s last season. Set in the autumn of 1950 in the grim mining town of Hatley, Ariz., the story is narrated by quarterback Felix “Red” O’Sullivan, who carries too many burdens on his slight five-foot-seven frame: grief over his brother Bobby’s death at Iwo Jima five years earlier; sorrow over his mother’s resulting mental deterioration; resentment at his embittered father; and the weight of the “scrappy but undersized” Muckers’ final chance to win the state championship. With the mine nearly barren, Red’s graduating class will be the last for Hatley High. Wallace deftly depicts the atmosphere of an era when segregation—in Hatley, between Mexicans and “Anglos”—was standard, the Korean War had just begun, and anti-communism was on the rise. While football fans will savor the play-by play descriptions, Wallace provides enough emotional drama to create a rich work of historical fiction that will draw in even those without an interest in the sport. Ages 12–up. (Oct.)
The mighty mighty Muckers
Felix’s last season of high school football is all that matters. When he’s out on the field, he can forget about his older brother who never came back from the war, his mother who disappeared inside her own mind after losing her oldest son, and the mining town that seems to be crumbling around him. If he can just lead the Muckers team to victory, he knows everything will be all right.
But even as the Muckers win more games, it’s hard to ignore everything that’s going wrong in his small Texas town. The threat of communism has everyone on edge, and race relations in the multiethnic immigrant community are near a boiling point. One of his best friends is heading off to the Korean War to prove himself, and the town will never accept the fact that Felix is white and the only girl he wants to kiss is Mexican.
Muckers is a strong piece of young adult historical fiction that manages to touch on many topics without seeming disjointed. The frame of a local newspaper helps to add some extra historical content without forcing it into the dialogue.
The novel is strongest when it gets inside Felix’s head off the football field, when he’s forced to think about not only his painful past, but his future. His desire to honor his parents and brother is strong, but what makes him a truly compelling protagonist is his thirst to prove his worth to himself, and his determination to avoid a life in the mines.
Muckers will entertain anyone interested in 1950s America, but it will especially capture the attention of football fans and anyone who’s ever felt hometown pride.