by Joshua C. Cohen
Welcome to Oregrove High, where football isn’t just a high school past-time, it’s a way of life. Fueled by under-the-table steroids and the allure of high-profile football scholarships, winning on the field means everything.
But there’s another team at Oregrove High. The men’s gymnastics team – not as low on the totem pole as the cross country runners, but nowhere near the elite football players. But this band of boys is sick of the football team getting their way both on and off the field.
But at Oregrove, standing up for what is right comes at a very high cost.
Look at that cover. Intense, right? Still, it doesn’t even begin to show how intense Leverage was. This is one of those books that is so well written and so involving that by the end the reader feels gutted.
I feel like I should point out that this is not your average sports rivalry book. It is dark and the issues escalate throughout the novel. There are consequences – big, awful consequences. It might almost be too much if it weren’t for the friendship of Danny (gymnast) and Kurt (football player).
I cannot express how much I loved this friendship. Or how much I loved both Danny and Kurt individually. The story alternates their POVs and both voices were unique and realistic. They both make awful choices and they both suffer those consequences. In a story that was filled with darkness and hate, they were the light needed to make it okay to continue on.
This is a novel about a lot of important things: bullying, assault, and drug use, among other things. But, to me, this was also a story of unlikely friendship and how important true friends are and the difference they make.
P.S. (Slight spoilers here) Some may gripe about the ending. I completely understand that. I fully understand that, really, in this day and age, it could never go down like that. But I was okay with it. In fact, I wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
P.P.S. I also have to acknowledge my love for sub-character Fisher, who basically played the spirit of chaos and mischief. While doing as much harm as good, in the end, I think everyone needs a little chaos in their life 🙂