I just finished reading Leverage, by Joshua C. Cohen.
The story focuses on two characters, Danny and Kurt. Danny is scrawny, short, he's a state-bound sophomore gymnast and he's often mistaken for a freshman. He hates this fact, wanting no association with other skinny little freshmen. Danny tries his hardest to disassociate himself with any kind of weakness. Kurt on the other hand is massive, with a face covered in scars; everything about him screams intimidation. He also has a severe stutter and comes from a past of abuse. They have no reason to speak or even acknowledge the other's existence. Each chapter switches between their points of view. They're caught in the middle of a prank war between their respective teams, fueled by ruthless captains of the varsity football team and a few bold and mischievous gymnasts. What starts as a couple pranks involving road kill and/or urine continues to escalate until it goes too far and people start getting hurt. Ultimately someone ends up dead, and no one has the courage to speak up and tell the truth. Danny and Kurt must struggle with loyalty to their sports and doing the right thing, even when it means putting themselves in danger.
I loved Leverage. Reading the details of the power struggle between football and other sports, seeing childish scheming grow into something much more malevolent, everything about Leverage is brutally honest. This is one of the few books that I actually read outside of school. There were nights when I stayed up late reading, telling myself to "stop after this chapter," over and over. One part that I truly enjoyed was watching two incredibly different people who have no business together team up. I thought it was incredible, the way Kurt didn't agree with what his own teammates were doing and decided to do something about it. And Danny, who could have just disappeared without doing a thing and not have to risk speaking up against some very dangerous people. He isn't big or scary like Kurt, who can hold his own. Danny was putting his life in danger from the very start. It made me want to keep reading, to see if they would even survive the whole book. The danger and cruelty made everything feel so real. It made me wonder if I could (or would) do anything in either of their situations. Could I bring myself to go against my own teammate, practically my own family? Or would I be too scared to say a word? Respond below in the comments with what you think you'd do!
By the way, here's a picture of the author Joshua Cohen doing some crazy stuff because he's kind of awesome.