Sunday, February 16, 2014

QB1 by Mike Lupica

QB 1
"Jake Cullen is a freshman quarterback playing high school football in the high-pressure land of Friday Night Lights (Texas). He is also the brother of Wyatt Cullen, who quarterbacked his team to the Texas State Championship last season--not to mention the son of former NFL quarterback and local legend, Troy Cullen. To be a Cullen in Texas is to be royalty . . . and a quarterback. All of which leaves 14-year-old Jake in a Texas-sized shadow, a tall order for any boy, especially one who's merely a freshman.

While his teammates assume the starting job will be handed to Jake on a silver platter, the truth is that he has to fight for every snap and every ounce of respect. Jake may be a Cullen and he may play quarterback, but he is not his brother or his father. Being a good teammate comes naturally to Jake; being a winner and a celebrity does not. He's just like every other boy--awkward around a pretty girl, in awe of his famous family, and desperate to simultaneously blend in and cast his own shadow.

Inspired by the real-life Manning family of quarterbacks (father Archie, Super Bowl-winning sons Peyton and Eli) and set amid the football-crazy culture of Texas immortalized in Friday Night Lights, QB 1 is a coming-of-age story perfect for the fan of MILLION-DOLLAR THROW, HEAT, and of course FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS." (Description from

QB1 is listed as Junior Fiction (JF) and I honestly don't know why. I have nothing against JF books. I love Harry Potter, I mean LOVE. The kind of love that had me reading all five books in a row and putting off a master's final paper to the very last minute. 

QB1 takes place in high school, following Jake as a freshman, entering his first football season, at the high school level as quarterback. So, with this being placed in high school, I kept asking myself why it was listed as JF. Maybe it's the straightforwardness of the book, the nice path from conflict to resolution without much thrown in to confuse a reader. Or maybe, it's the style of writing and type of words used. This is really a question for our Children's Librarian which I'll ask when I work next. But if you asked me, an average reader, I would say this book could be cataloged right along with other YA novels. I guess, what I'm trying to say is not to be afraid to read it due to the JF listing. It was a great, straightforward read. Something I really appreciated in a week that seemed like I had 100 things going on.

Jake finds himself coming into QB at the number 3 position as a freshman and in the big shadow of his big brother who is off to college as a starter at the QB position. There's a sweetness and innocence to Jake, you don't usual see from a boy's POV. Throughout the book he is able to express himself over problem's and thoughts in concerns to football and the relationship (or lack there of) with his father. Like most boys his age, he stumbled a little with the girl he had a crush on. It was this sweetness that made it such a wonderful book to read.

I also like the development of Jake in maturity. You could feel his doubt and awkwardness at the beginning. It was like I was watching him grow up right from the pages.  My favorite quote near the end that shows this maturity development... (no spoiler alert needed, it doesn't give much away from the description above)...

Jake said, "You know, all my life, there was a part of me wondering if I ever would get outside of Wyatt's shadow, no matter what I did. But I finally realized something this season."

"And what is that?"

"You spend too much time worrying about somebody else's shadow, you never have time to make one of your own."
I'm also a huge, HUGE, fan of football books. Saying that, this is the first book where football terminology was a bit confusing. I might be a huge fan but I really don't have a clue what a blitz or screen pass is. For those who do, I'm sure they will geek out over the full use of terminology. Me? I pushed through it for the story. And it was a great story!

Finally, this is one of those stories that you wish there was a followup for. Maybe senior year or even freshman year at college. Just to read on the growth of the person Jake will become as well as the player he'll develop into. Oh well, I'll just have to imagine it and know he's making the best out of it.

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