Life as the super star quarterback can be rough. Or the the head cheerleader (some would debate this being a sport). Though football isn’t the life for everyone. There are others who life revolves around swimming, soccer, basketball, and various other sports. These books are about sports. Sure they can have romance component or a focus elsewhere but there’s an underlying theme or motif of a sport that’s a constant in the book.
Books are listed by author’s last name. A series will be counted as one entry. The summary of the first book will be the only summary given as later book summary may include spoilers. Titles that are hyperlinked are linked to their Goodreads page.
Joshua C. COHEN
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 damaged fullback and a promising gymnast might hold the key to a school’s salvation. Told in alternating voices and with unapologetic truth, Leverage illuminates the fierce loyalty, flawed justice, and hard-won optimism of two young athletes.
When Miles Manning, a successful high school football player, discovers his teammates are using steroids–and one of them is his best friend–he’s faced with a tough decision: Is he willing to do what it takes to win? Football is his life, and his family, especially his dad, is pinning its hopes on him. It’s a lot of pressure for a high school junior to bear. This gripping look into the world of high school boys and athletes–and their struggle to be the best–is provocative and searingly honest.
Runningback Mick Johnson has dreams: dreams of cutting back, finding the hole, breaking into the open, and running free with nothing but green grass ahead. He has dreams of winning and of being the best. But football is a cruel sport. It requires power, grace, speed, quickness, and knowledge of the game. It takes luck, too. One crazy bounce can turn a likely victory into sudden defeat. What elite athlete wouldn’t look for an edge? A way to make him bigger, stronger, faster?
Jimmy Winter is a born star on the baseball field, and Seth Barnam can only dream of being as talented. Still, the two baseball fanatics have the kind of friendship that should last forever. But when Seth experiences an unthinkable loss, he’s forced to find his own personal strength–on and off the field.
Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have nothing in common but basketball. It’s sophomore year and Nick is trying to deal with his parents’ divorce. He also really wants to be a star on the basketball team. Trent, his neighbor, is angry, and aggressive. The two form an uneasy bond as they quietly practice each night on Nick’s backyard basketball court. But as the basketball season progresses, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined.
Through the eyes of a distinctly non-athletic protagonist—a fat high school journalist named Mitch—veteran sports novelist Deuker reveals the surprising truth behind a mysterious football player named Angel. When Angel shows up Lincoln High, he seems to have no past—or at least not one he is willing to discuss. Though Mitch gets a glimpse of Angel’s incredible talent off the field, Angel rarely allows himself to shine on the field. Is he an undercover cop, wonders Mitch? Or an ineligible player? In pursuit of a killer story, Mitch decides to find out just who this player is and what he’s done.
But the weather-beaten sailboat Chance Taylor and his father call home is thirty years old and hasn’t sailed in years. One step from both homelessness and hunger, Chance worries about things other kids his age never give a thought: Where will the money come for the electricity bill, grocery bill, and moorage fees? So when a new job falls his way, he jumps at the opportunity. He knows how much he will earn; what he doesn’t know is how much he will pay.
Jonas Dolan, is a high school point guard phenom whose athletic star is on the rise. When his teammate confides that their charismatic coach sexually abused him, Jonas must choose between honoring and protecting his friend or preserving his dreams of a career in basketball.
In turbulent 1968, Jessie Stackhouse, an African American freshman, is offered a scholarship to play hockey for Springvale Academy, an exclusive New Hampshire prep school. Jessie views admission to Springvale as his ticket to the Ivy League. Upon arrival, though, he encounters virulent racism, as he is beaten by a gang of town thugs and faces a terrifying fake lynching administered by his teammates. Jessie’s hockey coach is behind many of these cruelties, and despite the efforts of the headmaster, Jessie finds himself pushed nearly to the limit.
Seventeen-year-old Tony Antioch lives in Pleasant Meadows, a trailer park where questions aren’t asked since everyone already knows the answers from their own experience. He dreams of rescuing his mother from her constant stream of abusive boyfriends but in reality can barely duck the punches that are aimed at himself. When Tony is coerced into joining his friend Rob’s Mixed Martial Arts class, he is surprised to find that he has a talent that he actually wants to develop. But with a meth-dealing biker gang that is hungry for recruits and a vicious cycle of poverty and violence that precedes him, Tony is going to need a lot more than blood and guts to find a way out.
When you’re the smallest kid playing a big man’s game, the challenges never stop—especially when your name is Danny Walker. Leading your travel team to the national championship may seem like a dream come true, but for Danny, being at the top just means the competition tries that much harder to knock him off. Now Danny’s leaving Middletown for the summer and heading to Right Way basketball camp, where he’s out of his element and maybe out of his league. The country’s best ballers are in attendance, and Danny will need to raise his game if he wants to match up. But it won’t be easy. Old rivals and new battles leave Danny wondering if he really has what it takes to stand tall.
Meet Sloane Emily Jacobs: a seriously stressed-out figure-skater from Washington, D.C., who choked during junior nationals and isn’t sure she’s ready for a comeback. What she does know is that she’d give anything to escape the mass of misery that is her life. Now meet Sloane Devon Jacobs, a spunky ice hockey player from Philly who’s been suspended from her team for too many aggressive hip checks. Her punishment? Hockey camp, now, when she’s playing the worst she’s ever played. If she messes up? Her life will be over. When the two Sloanes meet by chance in Montreal and decide to trade places for the summer, each girl thinks she’s the lucky one: no strangers to judge or laugh at Sloane Emily, no scouts expecting Sloane Devon to be a hero. But it didn’t occur to Sloane E. that while avoiding sequins and axels she might meet a hockey hottie—and Sloane D. never expected to run into a familiar (and very good-looking) face from home. It’s not long before the Sloanes discover that convincing people you’re someone else might be more difficult than being yourself.
Catherine Gilbert MURDOCK
When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D.J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right. When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league. When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said. Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D.J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.
Walter Dean MYERS
All eyes are on seventeen-year-old Lonnie Jackson while he practices with his team for a city-wide basketball Tournament of Champions. His coach, Cal, knows Lonnie has what it takes to be a pro-basketball player, but warns him about giving in to the pressure. Cal knows because he, too, once had the chance–but sold out. As the Tournament nears, Lonnie learns that some heavy bettors want Cal to keep him on the bench so that the team will lose the championship. As the last seconds of the game tick away Lonnie and Cal must make a decision. Are they willing to blow the chance of a lifetime?
Basketball has always been an escape for Finley. He lives in gray, broken Bellmont, a town ruled by the Irish Mob, drugs, violence, and racially charged rivalries. At home, he takes care of his disabled grandfather, and at school he’s called “White Rabbit”, the only white kid on the varsity basketball team. He’s always dreamed of getting out somehow with his girlfriend, Erin. But until then, when he puts on his number 21, everything seems to make sense. Russ has just moved to the neighborhood. A former teen basketball phenom from a privileged home, his life has been turned upside down by tragedy. Cut off from everyone he knows, he now answers only to the name Boy21—his former jersey number—and has an unusual obsession with outer space. As their final year of high school brings these two boys together, “Boy21” may turn out to be the answer they both need.
There’s nothing All Star pitcher Peter Friedman loves more than baseball. It’s his life. He breathes baseball, dreams about it, and works his tail off to be great. Most kids are nervous about starting high school, but Pete’s amazing arm is going to make his life pretty easy. When you?re the star, girls, popularity, and all-around stud status are sure to follow. But Pete’s freshman year doesn’t turn out as planned. A pitching accident over the summer ruins his arm. If he can’t play baseball, what is he supposed to do? If he isn’t the star pitcher, then who is he? To make matters more complicated, there’s something going on with Pete’s grandpa; he’s acting weird and keeps forgetting important things, and Pete’s mother doesn’t want to talk about it. The only person Pete can confide in is Angelika, the amazingly cute girl in his photography class who might like Pete as much as he likes her. Only Angie doesn’t know if she can date someone who can’t be honest with himself, or with the people he’s closest to.
Welcome to Kennisaw–where Friday night high school football ranks right up there with God and country, and sometimes even comes in first. This year, the Kennisaw Knights are going for their fifth straight undefeated season, and if they succeed, they’ll be more than the best high school team in the eastern Oklahoma hill country–they’ll be legends. But the Knights’ legacy is a heavy weight to carry for Hampton, linebacker and star of the team. On the field, he’s so in control you’d think he was able to stop time. But his life off the field is a different story. His father walked out on him and his mom years ago, and now his mom has a new boyfriend every week. He’s drawn to a smart, quirky girl at school–the type a star athlete just isn’t supposed to associate with. And meanwhile, his best friend and teammate Blaine–the true friend who first introduced Hampton to football back when he had nothing else–is becoming uncomfortably competitive, and he’s demanding Hampton’s loyalty even as Hampton thinks he’s going too far.
Wendelin VAN DRAANEN
Jessica thinks her life is over when she loses a leg in a car accident. She’s not comforted by the news that she’ll be able to walk with the help of a prosthetic leg. Who cares about walking when you live to run?
As she struggles to cope with crutches and a first cyborg-like prosthetic, Jessica feels oddly both in the spotlight and invisible. People who don’t know what to say, act like she’s not there. Which she could handle better if she weren’t now keenly aware that she’d done the same thing herself to a girl with CP named Rosa. A girl who is going to tutor her through all the math she’s missed. A girl who sees right into the heart of her.
With the support of family, friends, a coach, and her track teammates, Jessica may actually be able to run again. But that’s not enough for her now. She doesn’t just want to cross finish lines herself—she wants to take Rosa with her.
Scott has one obsession: to fulfill his late father’s dream of racing in the Isle of Man Tourist Trophy Races, the most dangerous and prestigious motorcycle road race in the world. Far from their home in British Columbia and still reeling from a recent tragedy, Scott and his roommates-turned-pit crew have only five days during Practice Week to secure a spot in the TT. Scott must qualify with a fast enough time or he doesn’t race. But the pressure of working with a rookie crew on the potentially lethal course puts Scott’s safety and his friendships on the line. As race day draws near he and his friends will have to swallow their pride to help Scott achieve his dream.