Summary: Payback Time is a sports-centered book that even non-sports fans will enjoy. As with his other books, Carl Deuker has written a novel in which a teenager faces tough choices and comes out on top.
Mitch (short for Michelin Man) True is a reporter for his high school newspaper. Despite not being chosen editor for his senior year, he puts his all into his new assignment – covering sports. As an added bonus, some of his articles even get published in the city newspaper and he gets to have Kimi as his photographer (she would probably never even speak to him otherwise.) When Mitch notices a new player on the team with amazing talent, his curiosity is piqued. When his questions lead to stonewalling, both by the coach and by the player himself, Mitch realizes that he is on to something big. Why is a great player like Angel spending so much time on the bench? Is he an undercover cop looking for drugs on campus? Is he the coach’s secret weapon for winning the state championship? Mitch & Kimi get into much more than they bargained for while trying to solve the mystery.
Mitch is a great character that I could associate with – a teen who is on the fringes in his school; a part but not one that necessarily stands out. His relationship with Kimi and the way it changes within the story is a great way to show how Mitch is taking more control of his life and working hard to be what he wants to be (mainly thin, which is difficult since his mother is a caterer who often brings home desserts for him to try.) The twists within the story kept me turning the pages to see if Mitch would get through the story unscathed and to see how it would all end for Angel.
For sports fans, the descriptions of the action in the football games are well-written, but not so in-depth that a non-sports person (such as myself) felt lost. That is a tough balancing act, but Deuker pulls it off well.
Making tough choices
Doing what is right
13 and up
Areas of concern (content):
Foul Language: mild
Nudity/Adult Content: none