Book Review | Pop
Author: Gordon Korman
I have been a fan of Gordon Korman’s books since I about 12 years old. I remember Korman, a teen himself at the time, writing books about two friends named Bruno and Boots. Their antics were hilarious and I’ve happily read Korman’s books since that time. Most recently, I had read Son of the Mob and its sequel and enjoyed them as well. For that reason, I was interested in reading Korman’s latest book, Pop. Though I must admit that, generally, a book that revolves around football would not be something I’d want to read, I thought if anyone could change my mind it would be Gordon Korman. And, as I thought, I was right!
Pop focuses on Marcus, a teenage boy who has recently moved to a small town with his mother. Marcus has a passion for football and he knows that he has moved to a town with a championship-winning high school team. What he doesn’t realize is that his arrival sparks some deep-seeded tensions because the players (particular Troy, the quarterback) don’t want an outsider to come in and impact their winning team! Marcus’ arrival also sparks tension with Troy for another reason – Troy’s ex-girlfriend, the head cheerleader, has decided to set her sites on the Marcus. All of these events make Marcus’ transition to his new life really difficult.
On his own, Marcus heads to a local park to practice. What he doesn’t expect, but soon discovers, is a man in his 50s who wants to play football with him! This man, named Charlie, seems to lead a charmed life. He practices hard with Marcus, he runs around pulling pranks (which gets Marcus into trouble with the local police) and, everywhere he goes, people just smile and let him basically do what he pleases!
What Marcus soon discovers is that Charlie doesn’t really have a charmed life. Charlie is a retired professional football player (and, as Marcus’ luck would have it, is also Troy’s father) who seems to be reliving his youth in a rather bizarre manner. He believes that Marcus is really his childhood friend “Mac” and his pranks revolve around getting one over on a shopkeeper who is actually long-dead! What is happening to Charlie and what can Marcus do to help him?
Just as I thought, I absolutely LOVED this novel! Korman has a way of making his characters come to life and I found myself wanting Marcus to be happy, hoping that Charlie’s life would get better and emphasizing with Charlie’s wife and children. Without giving too much away about the novel, I found it to be a departure from Korman’s other novels and I found his treatement of the subject to be sensitive and poignant. I have to admit I even shed a few tears at the end!
This novel would be great for anyone who enjoys football, likes reading Young Adult fiction or anyone who has dealt with Alzheimer’s Disease in their life. While this book is technically a Young Adult novel., I think that Korman’s treatment of the subject and his development of characters transcends the Young Adult genre and that it is a book that would be of interest to a large cross-section of readers. I believe that Pop is the best novel by Gordon Korman that I have ever read!
*I received a copy of this book to review but I was not financially compensated in any way. The opinions expressed are my own and are based on my observations while reading this novel.*