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Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White

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In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer foot In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer football camp at an elite sports-focused boarding school, the boys are thrilled to be invited back with full-ride scholarships. But on day one of practice, they’re shocked when the team's coaching staff makes Tom, a black kid, a receiver and Jason, a white kid, a quarterback. Confronted with mounting evidence of deep-seated racial bias, the boys speak out, risking their scholarships and chances to play. As tensions ratchet up with coaches and other players, Tom and Jason must decide how much they're willing to lose in a conflict with powerful forces that has nothing—and everything—to do with the game they love.


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In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer foot In Backfield Boys, renowned sports journalist and New York Times–bestselling author John Feinstein tells a thrilling story of friendship, football, and a fight for justice.Freshman footballers Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are a perfect pair: Jason is a blazing-fast wide-receiver, while his best friend Tom has all the skills a standout quarterback needs. After summer football camp at an elite sports-focused boarding school, the boys are thrilled to be invited back with full-ride scholarships. But on day one of practice, they’re shocked when the team's coaching staff makes Tom, a black kid, a receiver and Jason, a white kid, a quarterback. Confronted with mounting evidence of deep-seated racial bias, the boys speak out, risking their scholarships and chances to play. As tensions ratchet up with coaches and other players, Tom and Jason must decide how much they're willing to lose in a conflict with powerful forces that has nothing—and everything—to do with the game they love.

30 review for Backfield Boys: A Football Mystery in Black and White

  1. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline Tom and Jason are fairly happy in their public school in New York City, but they are both phenomenal football players and spend a summer at a football camp. Afterwards, they are offered positions at the prestigious sports prep academy in Virginia. Even though their mothers are less than thrilled about them playing football at all, they are offered scholarships that make the very expensive school seem worth the risk. Right away, things get uncomfortable. The E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline Tom and Jason are fairly happy in their public school in New York City, but they are both phenomenal football players and spend a summer at a football camp. Afterwards, they are offered positions at the prestigious sports prep academy in Virginia. Even though their mothers are less than thrilled about them playing football at all, they are offered scholarships that make the very expensive school seem worth the risk. Right away, things get uncomfortable. The boys expect to room together, but are separated. They are assigned positions that they don't normally play. When they ask about these things, the coaches are very put out and make it clear that they are not to be contradicted. Jason is Jewish and Tom is black, and the boys soon start to pick up on subtle and not-so-subtle incidents of racism in the school. Jason's roommate, a self-proclaimed "good ol' boy" named Billy Bob is from Alabama and does not share these prejudices, but he has spent more time in the South and understands how things work. When the boys realize that there has never been a black quarterback, and roommates are assigned along racial lines, they contact sports writers and start an investigation, especially into the most offensive coach as well as Gatch, the founder of the school, who has alarming ties to people whose track record on race is horrendous. Can the boys come up with concrete proof that things are not being done properly at their school? Strengths: Feinstein does a great job of writing for older middle grade readers as well as high school ones. I appreciated that he set this in a high school and dealt with serious issues without resorting to bad language or behavior. Tom and Jason are both very appealing characters, and the inclusion of sports reporters is a great example of "writing what you know"! This was reminiscent of Paul Volponi's titles like Black and White or John Ed Bradley's Call Me By My Name, and is a welcome addition to books about football that have some more serious themes. Weaknesses: Referencing Trump will date this one, and it is immeasurably sad to think that this level of institutionalized racism might still exist in the US, but that's why it's an important book. What I really think: This is an essential purchase for middle school and high school libraries. Also, I will never live South of the Ohio River. Just won't.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kimberley

    I received an ARC of "Backfield Boys" from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't impressed with this story. I felt there were far too manny tropes trotted out and too much emphasis on the political climate. While it's important to bring relevant issues--particularly in the world of sports--to the minds of today's youth, much of this felt like a lazy rehash. While I could easily figure out where this was going, I didn't feel like the book challenged the reader enough. There were fa I received an ARC of "Backfield Boys" from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I wasn't impressed with this story. I felt there were far too manny tropes trotted out and too much emphasis on the political climate. While it's important to bring relevant issues--particularly in the world of sports--to the minds of today's youth, much of this felt like a lazy rehash. While I could easily figure out where this was going, I didn't feel like the book challenged the reader enough. There were far too many instances where the black characters took the role of passivity, while the white characters stepped up to make change happen. Their is, whether intended or not, an undercurrent of someone (yet again) being the white savior. I didn't much care for that and, if I allowed either of my two preteen children to read this book, I'd immediately point out that tendency. In life, there will be a myriad of challenges and, while some are still holding to ignorance, it is our responsibility to do better. Is this a book that will at the very least bring forth conversation? Yes. If that alone was the author's goal, then he accomplished that much.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

    Hooray for a good football book that features nice play-by-play action, has something of a compelling plot, and will be a palatable recommendation for sporty students who have to check out something for a class assignment. Now that said, it's not so incredible that YAs who just love reading will sprain anything getting to a library or bookstore for their own copies. It's a book that seems written for the independent reading project. The suspense in the plot involves whether two high school fresh Hooray for a good football book that features nice play-by-play action, has something of a compelling plot, and will be a palatable recommendation for sporty students who have to check out something for a class assignment. Now that said, it's not so incredible that YAs who just love reading will sprain anything getting to a library or bookstore for their own copies. It's a book that seems written for the independent reading project. The suspense in the plot involves whether two high school freshmen transplanted New Yorkers who have been given scholarships to play in the football program of a famed Virginia private sport prep school will be able to prove that they are the victims of institutional racism. The black quarterback Tom is slated as a receiver while his longtime white buddy Jason is the fastest receiver but is pushed into a lower strings at QB. The two dig into the job and ruffle lots of feathers along with their roommates and a couple of newspaper sports writers. Ideally suited to younger readers, even middle school, Backfield Boys is also timely with its entry into a nice field of realistic books that help bring some of the racial conflicts facing the U.S. into a applied fictional context.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Wolf (Alpha)

    I loved this book. I loved how the boys grew up together and how they played football and got really good together. I love how they decided to go to college together and how many friends they meet there. I hated the coaches and how they swapped the boys from their positions. I hated the coaches are so mean and refuse to listen to the boys. I love how they decide to risk their scholarships in order to prove that the coach is racist. I love how in the end they win a game because they resort back t I loved this book. I loved how the boys grew up together and how they played football and got really good together. I love how they decided to go to college together and how many friends they meet there. I hated the coaches and how they swapped the boys from their positions. I hated the coaches are so mean and refuse to listen to the boys. I love how they decide to risk their scholarships in order to prove that the coach is racist. I love how in the end they win a game because they resort back to the positions they are good at. I really liked this book. 5 stars.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Maya

    This book was absolutely amazing, and I am very inclined to read other books by this author.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Carol Baldwin

    True confession. I am not a football fan. I don't know one play from another and when dragged to a high school game by my husband, will patiently wait until half-time and then beg to leave. (Let's hear it for the marching band!) But after listening to BACKFIELD BOYS (August, 2017 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) by sports journalist John Feinstein, next time I watch a game I'll pay a little more attention to what is actually happening on the field. Yep. This young adult book for boys (although female True confession. I am not a football fan. I don't know one play from another and when dragged to a high school game by my husband, will patiently wait until half-time and then beg to leave. (Let's hear it for the marching band!) But after listening to BACKFIELD BOYS (August, 2017 Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) by sports journalist John Feinstein, next time I watch a game I'll pay a little more attention to what is actually happening on the field. Yep. This young adult book for boys (although female football fans will also enjoy it) is that good. A short prologue sets the stage for the book when a member of a defeated touch football team says to Jason and Tom: "You two should make history. How many great quarterback receiver combinations have the black guy throwing to the white guy?" From that opening premise, John Feinstein spins out the adventure of best friends Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson--two New York freshman who rock the world of an elite sports-focused boarding school--and the nation. Written in an omniscient point of view, the reader is primarily privy to Tom and Jason's thoughts as they navigate the practice fields of the prep school. Tom, an African American, is the "Bullseye" quarterback. Jason is nicknamed "White Lightening" because he's a fast wide receiver. When they get to school and attend their first practice, they're surprised when their positions are switched. They protest, but to no avail. Soon, they and their two buddies--Billy Bob a white boy from Alabama; and Anthony, a huge black lineman who loves to eat--suspect that there's some heavy duty racism going on behind the scenes. Despite plenty of realistic obstacles, the boys figure out what's going on at the school, who is behind the racial discrimination, and how the coaches are covering up the story. In the course of the book the four boys make friends with the Hispanic student athletes (who fill them in on some of the political realities of the school) and four female athletes (conveniently, two are black, and two are white). The truth of how deeply racism runs in the fictional Virginia prep school is revealed at the school dance when the inter-racial couples are told to stop dancing with one another. Although some readers may find the ending predictable, I couldn't stop listening to it. Published in 2017, this contemporary book might startle readers from ages 12-18: the roots of racism still dig deep into our American consciousness. I appreciated narrator Mike Chamberlain 's clear reading of Backfield Boys but I felt like his portrayal of Billy Bob--the tall southern boy with a deep drawl, was the most accurate. Although the hispanic secondary characters sounded authentic, I think Anthony, the southern black boy, was not as effectively portrayed. Giveaway on my blog: https://carolbaldwinblog.blogspot.com... ends March 2.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Kristen

    I try to read a middle grade or YA sports book every once in awhile. Not only because I enjoy sports, but because it's a genre that many of my students (male and female) read religiously. I enjoy how Feinstein (as well as authors like Tim Green and Mike Lupica) weave sports mechanics and play-by-play with non-sport issues and themes. The subject matter here is both timely and frustrating. Two boys--one African American, one Jewish--attend a private prep school with a focus on athletics only to di I try to read a middle grade or YA sports book every once in awhile. Not only because I enjoy sports, but because it's a genre that many of my students (male and female) read religiously. I enjoy how Feinstein (as well as authors like Tim Green and Mike Lupica) weave sports mechanics and play-by-play with non-sport issues and themes. The subject matter here is both timely and frustrating. Two boys--one African American, one Jewish--attend a private prep school with a focus on athletics only to discover that something is deeply wrong with the inner workings of the football team--and the school. That thing is racism. While Feinstein references common forms of overt racism (the KKK, use of the n word, objection to interracial couples), there is also acknowledgement of casual racism (e.g. using "Mr." with white athletes but not with those of color) and systemic racism (assuming African Americans aren't as smart or that they are built specifically for certain things). And conservatives, be forewarned: the president is called out several times--by name--for fanning the flames of racism. (Rightly so, in this reader's opinion.) This will be a great read for my students who enjoy a good sports story--there's plenty of exciting football action. But it will be a great read for those interested in racial equality and social justice, as well--a theme that is extremely popular with my middle school students right now.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kyle

    Backfield Boys by John Feinstein is a great realistic fiction novel for all ages. In the book two kids go to a football boarding school in the south. In the boarding school they are some of the best players there but do not seem to get enough playing time. That is when they learn just how racially influenced the decisions made at TGP are. Throughout the book the two boys struggle to find answers. I really liked the book because it did not only talk about football but a pressing problem in our co Backfield Boys by John Feinstein is a great realistic fiction novel for all ages. In the book two kids go to a football boarding school in the south. In the boarding school they are some of the best players there but do not seem to get enough playing time. That is when they learn just how racially influenced the decisions made at TGP are. Throughout the book the two boys struggle to find answers. I really liked the book because it did not only talk about football but a pressing problem in our community, racism. In the book it was very interesting how the kids dealt with the media. On page 185 in a letter to Jason it says,"Tom Robinson has requested an interview with him for Sunday..." This is just a front the kids have made up. They actually are going to talk to the reporters about the racial bias. This really helps me relate to the book because if I was in that position I would do the same thing. That is what writers try to accomplish, making the reader feel connected to the story. This book was really good because it will influence people to also be less racist and have less prejudice. Overall this is a very good book that I would rate a 9 out of 10.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Dechlan

    I have read many books written by John Feinstein, therefore I expected more from "Backfield Boys." I still enjoyed reading some of this novel, but I did not like the lack of inclusion of sporting events, especially because I was expecting a majority of the novel to be based on football. Although I have these problems with the novel, I really liked the suspense in "Backfield Boys." The reason I gave this novel two stars is because it never really made me want to keep reading. This book appeals t I have read many books written by John Feinstein, therefore I expected more from "Backfield Boys." I still enjoyed reading some of this novel, but I did not like the lack of inclusion of sporting events, especially because I was expecting a majority of the novel to be based on football. Although I have these problems with the novel, I really liked the suspense in "Backfield Boys." The reason I gave this novel two stars is because it never really made me want to keep reading. This book appeals to teenage boys because of the diction and plot. I also feel teenage boys would like this book because of the incorporation of football and the high school setting. Overall, I disliked this book because of my expectations. If I started reading this book with a different attitude, I might have enjoyed reading "Backfield Boys" more.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Feinstein's book, The Backfield Boys, mirrors the current racial distress in the U.S. Set at a private prep school in the South known for excellence in sports, the book tells the story of four football players and their struggle to experience fair play on and off the field. Also a story of friendship, the boys have to make difficult choices that will have wide ranging impact on their lives and the lives of many others. Feinstein's book, The Backfield Boys, mirrors the current racial distress in the U.S. Set at a private prep school in the South known for excellence in sports, the book tells the story of four football players and their struggle to experience fair play on and off the field. Also a story of friendship, the boys have to make difficult choices that will have wide ranging impact on their lives and the lives of many others.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Vonmilla

    This book talks about modern day racism. It has taught me a lot. I read it all in one day because I couldn't put it down. This book talks about modern day racism. It has taught me a lot. I read it all in one day because I couldn't put it down.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Peter

    Backfield Boys Review by: Peter Wojdak Backfield Boys by John Feinstein features a dynamic football duo. Jason and Tom are the best wide receiver to quarterback pairing in their local area, consisting of a private and public school, in New York City. The unstereotypical pairing has earned themselves the nicknames white lightning and bullseye because of their extreme skill. The pairing is unstereotypical because stereotypes say that normally a black player is faster and will play wide receiver, wh Backfield Boys Review by: Peter Wojdak Backfield Boys by John Feinstein features a dynamic football duo. Jason and Tom are the best wide receiver to quarterback pairing in their local area, consisting of a private and public school, in New York City. The unstereotypical pairing has earned themselves the nicknames white lightning and bullseye because of their extreme skill. The pairing is unstereotypical because stereotypes say that normally a black player is faster and will play wide receiver, while a white player plays quarterback. Tom and Jason are just the opposite. These best friends decide to go to a boarding school in Virginia called Thomas Gatch Prep High School or TGP. The boys went to a 7 on 7 camp at the school over the summer. The boys enjoyed their time there, and the scouts at the camp realized the duo’s talent and offered them both full scholarships. Neither boy could turn down such an offer and both began their freshman year playing on the football team at TGP. Immediately after arriving at school they run into some issues. The first person they talked to at the school informed them they wouldn’t be rooming together. They had specifically requested to room together when applying. Then they went to their first practice and learned they would be playing each other’s normal positions. Tom would play wide receiver and Jason would play quarterback. They tried to protest and explain there had been a mix up, but were interrupted and told to respect their superiors. Something is up at TGP, but the boys dont know what. I would put this story in the sports genre but it has a cool mystery spin to it. Some of the larger themes in the book are friendship and racism. In the following quote from the story you can see how much racism emerges as a theme. “Ingelsby responded, “Well I sure as hell am not working for a goddamn…” And then he said it, the n-word.” This shows a coach talking in a meeting after learning a black offensive line coach will become the head coach. It shows how racist some of the coaches in the book are and how big of a theme it is in the story. This book really did appeal to me. One of the largest things that enhanced the story was the authors writing style. The story was written so that every time you thought the plot was going to calm down something huge would happen. Right as they are figuring out that the coach was a racist they learn he is not the only racist one. This keeps the plot constantly expanding and makes the story more intriguing. Another thing I like about this book is how relatable the characters are. The four main characters: Jason, Tom, Anthony, and Billy Bob are similar ages to me. This makes all the challenges in the book relatable to me, because I can envision myself inside the conflict and then feel what the characters are feeling. With the relatable character and interesting writing style I would recommend this book to young adult readers in seventh grade and up. It is great for all readers who like mysteries or sports. The book combines the genres of the epic sports story with the evil antagonist mystery to create an interesting plot. I haven’t read a book similar to this but compared to other sports stories it takes the cake. VERDICT: If you are a fan of sports, mysteries, or are just looking for a good book in general you have to pick up Backfield Boys.

  13. 4 out of 5

    L Cam

    This review was for a freely given ARC review via netgalley. This was an interesting story. It follows Tom, an African American boy and his best friend Jason who is white as they get an up-close and personal look at racism in the 21st century. To sum up their meeting and dynamic, they met when they were in elementary school both having a live of sports, but both excelling at football. Jason was a good receiver, and Tom a good quarterback. The interesting bit of their dynamic is that the author s This review was for a freely given ARC review via netgalley. This was an interesting story. It follows Tom, an African American boy and his best friend Jason who is white as they get an up-close and personal look at racism in the 21st century. To sum up their meeting and dynamic, they met when they were in elementary school both having a live of sports, but both excelling at football. Jason was a good receiver, and Tom a good quarterback. The interesting bit of their dynamic is that the author sets up the premise of reverse stereotyped roles in football. I'm not sure if this is an unspoken rule in American football, or if it's just a correlation of something noticed over the years in both American and football history. Regardless this is a very interesting story set up. Football is practically Americas unofficial religion. It has its roots deep in white male culture historically so they, meaning football and its overall institution are very averse to change. It plays on a lot of racial stereotypes that people want to pretend don't exist. So we have two best friends of different backgrounds with arguably the wrong skill set for their race. But regardless, they make a good QB-receiver combo that could change football history. When they get to high school as freshman after a having attended youth football camp run by the same school, they've been given each other's intended positions and when they try to correct or even pass an inquiry about it they slowly realize that there's something up with the coaches and the school, which a heavily ingrained yet unspoken rule of the social acceptance of discreet racism and discrimination from its staff and students. I was really surprised at the intense subject of this because it takes a still very relevant subject, racism, and puts it in an equally relevant and controversial sport- American football. I say it's controversial because as I mentioned, football is a stereotypical male sport and its rooted and date need back to the time of racism, segregation and discrimination. It delivered this subject in a very real and relatable way. What got me the most, negatively about this story was the fact that the characters were 14. I felt like the way the different characters in the story, spoke was not age appropriate, same for when they begin their research on the coach. However, I also understand that for them to truly understand racism directly in the way they did it had to be in a situation where they were coming into an already established institution which they did. It would probably have been better if they were college freshman and not high school freshman. I also didn't like that we didn't get to see the emotional toll on the two 14 year old boys, because they are just that boys. Sure we see a lot of the anger in different ways, but I would have also liked to see if it affected Jason and Tom's relationship to each other, which I think it should have to some extent. Still, I applaud the author for taking an interesting topic and dropping it into a context relevant. I also understood why they used high school students instead. So overall, I liked the story a lot. 3.5 stars.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Kyle Lattery

    Back street Boys by John Feinstein is a fast paced sports book, where a freshman Jason is “The Quarterback.” A high role where everything is rolling for him; his grades are high, he’s getting the girls,he is living the all around highschool life. Freshman football players Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are known around the school as “The Duo” Jason is known everywhere for his extremely fast speed, while his best friend Tom has the potential that any starting quarterback needs to have in their hi Back street Boys by John Feinstein is a fast paced sports book, where a freshman Jason is “The Quarterback.” A high role where everything is rolling for him; his grades are high, he’s getting the girls,he is living the all around highschool life. Freshman football players Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson are known around the school as “The Duo” Jason is known everywhere for his extremely fast speed, while his best friend Tom has the potential that any starting quarterback needs to have in their high school career. After they spend the summer at a football camp at an elite sports school, the boys are given the chance to to be invited back with full ride scholarships. One day at practice, they are filled with disbelief that the team's coaching staff makes Tom, a black student athlete, a receiver for their team and Jason, a white kid, a quarterback. The overall impressions I have on the book are great! The fact that the book is based of my favorite sport may play a role in the deciding, but for others the will to keep reading to find the answer they are looking for was a big hook for me. I love how there is always tension in the book through racial differences. First of all, John Feinstein does an amazing job at showing realism throughout the book through racial difficulties. In the book the boys were surprised by the coaches remarks and decisions and they felt that there was racial remarks going on so they risked they scholarships and much more. Jason states in the book that he is Jewish and Tom is black. At the school they attend daily, the boys soon start to pick up on incidents of racism in the school. Jason’s pal who is his roomate who goes by the nickname Billy Bob who grew up in Alabama, and does not share these similar beliefs, but has lived in the south more than anywhere else and he knows what’s real from whats not. When the boys realize that there has never been a black quarterback at their new school, and the roommates that they are assigned are along racial ties, they contact all the local news stations and start an further follow up investigation. Especially into the main culprit of the racism, offensive coordinator Gatch whom is the founder of the school. He has a history of alarming ties to people whose record on race is not so good. There are a lot of problems today as ones found in Back Field Boys that are in the real world such as discrimination, guilt, and prejudice towards every race. Feinstein's writing skills compliment the real world with what every race struggles in today’s time. I think the book Back Field Boys contains a theme we are still fighting today, that theme is putting what is right before your own self. The main characters learn a few things here and there about standing up for what you believe in and doing what morals we humans share together. We all bleed the same blood. Everybody has different ways they grow up but in the science where the boys went above and beyond and approached the school risking everything. When they risked everything it totally relates to the theme through doing what it true and what is right. The bravery and positivity throughout the book still amazes me.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Curd

    Backfield Boys written by John Feinstein was amazing. I was just looking in the library for some sort of sports book and somehow I pulled this one off the shelf. It is about two boys, Tom and Jason who are in high school and have been friends since they were in kindergarten. They had always played sports together but their parents had never let them play football until the boys finally convinced them in high school after playing in the park with some friends. With Tom at quarterback and Jason at Backfield Boys written by John Feinstein was amazing. I was just looking in the library for some sort of sports book and somehow I pulled this one off the shelf. It is about two boys, Tom and Jason who are in high school and have been friends since they were in kindergarten. They had always played sports together but their parents had never let them play football until the boys finally convinced them in high school after playing in the park with some friends. With Tom at quarterback and Jason at receiver, they were unstoppable. The book begins with Tom and Jason playing touch football in the park with friends, but they were too good so they would always win. That is when their friends suggested that they play football in high school. This led to many conversations with their parents, but in the end, their parents agreed to let them play. Everything was going well and they were each the best at their position, but their coach was racist. This meant that Jason, a white kid, could start and Tom, a black kid, was third string behind two white kids. Throughout the book, the boys and one of their assistant coaches tried to prove that their head coach wasn’t giving every kid a fair shot. Finally during one meeting, the assistant coach recorded the head coach being racist and they were able to get him fired. After that, there was only one game left in the season, so Tom got to start. That meant that he won because Jason was right by his side and the duo was back and better than ever. The book ended with Tom and Jason winning their last game and they both played every minute of that game. I liked how it ended because it took such a long time for Tom to get the position he deserved and when he got it, he proved that it was meant to be his. My favorite part of the book was during the last touchdown of the last game because it was very intense: Tom was rolling out of the pockett while being chased by three defenders. When he was scanning the field, no one was open. Just as he was about to get hit by all three defenders, Jason made a quick move to get open. Tom let the ball fly as he was hit and Jason had to dive out of bounds while keeping his toes in bounds and he secured the pass. In my opinion, this was a really good book. I liked how it showed the struggle of race while still having sports in the book. Another football book that I have read before is called Football Champ by Tim Green. Also, a movie that deals with racism and football is Remember the Titans. That is one of my favorite movies ever and I highly recommend watching it. I would recommend this book for someone who likes football because it was filled with action and there were many things going on just like they would be happening in a real game of football.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Barbara

    This author really knows how to tell a compelling sports story. While this one has lots of issues to discuss and contains some great descriptive passages of action on the gridiron, he has overreached in tackling issues of racism at an exclusive sports boarding camp. The story centers around best friends, Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson, New Yorkers who receive scholarships to the high school after their performance at a summer camp. The boys' mothers are anxious about the possibility of head inju This author really knows how to tell a compelling sports story. While this one has lots of issues to discuss and contains some great descriptive passages of action on the gridiron, he has overreached in tackling issues of racism at an exclusive sports boarding camp. The story centers around best friends, Jason Roddin and Tom Jefferson, New Yorkers who receive scholarships to the high school after their performance at a summer camp. The boys' mothers are anxious about the possibility of head injuries, but the financial offer is too much to overlook. Things go wrong from the start. Tom, a talented quarterback, is relegated to the sidelines, while Jason, a speedy receiver, is given the nod as a possible quarterback. The two boys don't even get to room with each other. Determined to get to the root of the problem, they start investigating and unearth a connection between the school's founder and David Duke of KKK fame. They even get two newspaper reporters involved in their investigation. Now, I'm not saying that this sort of racism doesn't exist, and I would be among the first to acknowledge how long it took before there was ever an African-American QB in SEC football, but the racism that exists in those places is much more subtle than is described here. I found the subject matter worth exploring, yes, but the delivery to be more than a bit heavy-handed. Racism exists in plenty of places, not just those that are south of the Mason-Dixon line, and in some respects this book only serves to support certain stereotypes about Southerners. I was troubled too by the lack of explanation for why the head coach, Coach Johnson, kept playing a quarterback who was clearly outclassed by the others, including Billy Bob from Gadsden, Alabama, and why none of the abusive behavior evident once school started was never seen during the summer. The parents of most athletes tend to be deeply entrenched in the lives of their offspring so the very absence of both sets of parents during games struck me as odd. Ultimately, this is a good effort, but it never ends up in the end zone. Still, it raises quite a few points of discussion for those who are open to talking about the topic of racism in sports.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Amanda

    Best friends Jason and Tom have full-ride scholarships to a prestigious school for their outstanding football talent. Jason is a lightning-fast wide receiver and Tom is a quick-thinking quarterback with amazing aim, so they are shocked at practice when Jason is named a quarterback and Tom a wide receiver. They are even more shocked as Jason gets playing time and Tom never touches the field. Then, their suspicion is raised when they realize dorm rooms are segregated by color. Secretly, they conta Best friends Jason and Tom have full-ride scholarships to a prestigious school for their outstanding football talent. Jason is a lightning-fast wide receiver and Tom is a quick-thinking quarterback with amazing aim, so they are shocked at practice when Jason is named a quarterback and Tom a wide receiver. They are even more shocked as Jason gets playing time and Tom never touches the field. Then, their suspicion is raised when they realize dorm rooms are segregated by color. Secretly, they contact sports journalists who inform them their school has never had a black quarterback. Tom is black. The reporters have been sure for a while that the boys’ new school has not only a racist head coach, but a racist founder. However, nothing can be done about this without sound proof of injustice. Desperate to make wrongs right, the boys continue attending their frustratingly prejudiced new school until they have enough to evidence to do so. Written clearly, with easy to follow action, this book is great for capturing the attention of intermediate to young adult readers. While it would help the reader to have a general knowledge of football, non-football fans can still enjoy this book. Unfortunately, the main characters’ voices seem older than that of high school freshmen, which is what they are. Also, the racist coaches and leaders are so extreme they seem more like the two-dimensional, pure evil villains of a fairytale than real people. This may not be a problem, depending on the reader's opinion, as it doesn’t detract from the storyline and makes the protagonists seem even more heroic in contrast. The majority of the protagonists are white. It would have been nice to hear more about how Tom felt as he was being discriminated and to see him stand up for himself, but the majority of the book's focus is on Jason and the things he, his white roommate, and the two reporters of unspecified race do to stand up for people of color. Nonetheless, the book still has many good messages on equality for all. *Contains mild language ++Review originally published on Children's Book and Media Review++ http://byucbmr.com/reviews/backfield-...

  18. 5 out of 5

    Gautham

    Like mystery and realistic fiction books? Then Backfield Boys is the book for you! At the start of this book, wide receiver Jason Roddin and black quarterback Tom Jefferson are recruited to play at an elite preparatory school, hoping to go to the National Football League someday. Jason and Tom were very excited to play for this top school, but their excitement soon came to frustration. At the first practice, Jason and Tom's positions were switched, putting Jason at quarterback and Tom at wide re Like mystery and realistic fiction books? Then Backfield Boys is the book for you! At the start of this book, wide receiver Jason Roddin and black quarterback Tom Jefferson are recruited to play at an elite preparatory school, hoping to go to the National Football League someday. Jason and Tom were very excited to play for this top school, but their excitement soon came to frustration. At the first practice, Jason and Tom's positions were switched, putting Jason at quarterback and Tom at wide receiver. The two boys constantly questioned the coaches of this atrocity, giving much frustration to the coaches. Along with this, Jason and Tom barely played in any of the first few games to start the season. One day, one of the football players, a black offensive lineman, was deeply criticized for not protecting the starting quarterback during a practice. This led to the main quarterback being out for the season due to a torn ACL, and the black offensive lineman quitting the team. The next day, Todd and Jason inquired about the specific treatment of the coaches towards black people. First, the coaches switched Tom's QB position, who is black, and then they specifically criticized another black player, even though it was not his fault. The next few days, the boys looked through past events with the team and wanted to see if there was a similar pattern to the treatment towards black players on the team, and while researching, the discovered a reporter who wants to a racism piece against the coaches of the football team. After discovering this, the boys and the reporter met up with each other, hoping to find the truth among the racist allegations. Throughout the book, the boys encounter harsh problems on the field while secretly going behind the coaches' backs to uncover more information about suspicious racist behavior.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aiden R

    The book I read is “Backfield Boys”. The author of this book is John Feinstein and he writes about sports and he is good. The first part of the book is about that is one team is really good and they are trying to win all there games and they play one game and they win all there games. When they win their last game they get so happy because they only lost one game the whole season and their coach said if they win all there games they can pore water on him because they won all there games. They ge The book I read is “Backfield Boys”. The author of this book is John Feinstein and he writes about sports and he is good. The first part of the book is about that is one team is really good and they are trying to win all there games and they play one game and they win all there games. When they win their last game they get so happy because they only lost one game the whole season and their coach said if they win all there games they can pore water on him because they won all there games. They get to the next season and they lost their first game and they only lost by a touchdown and they tried their best. Now they are getting ready to play their next game and they are ready to play the team that beat them and they beat the team that beat them the first game of the new season. They got a couple days off of football because they need a break from playing a lot of games and they need to let their quarterback get ready to play some hard teams and get some new plays for they always don’t have to run the ball sometimes they can throw the ball but they never catch the ball that's why they need new plays. They have a game home and they try their new plays and they work and they get a lot of people with their new plays because one is that they fake a run then they quarterback throws it to the right side and they run it in for a touchdown. I recommend people reading this book because if you like sports you will like this book and it is good for people that don’t know anything about football. If someone wants to read this book they have to read my book review because it gives some information from the book and tells what happens in the book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Austin

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Two kids (Tom and Jason) from New York are invited to a football camp one year and get a scholarship to TGP high school. On the first day of school, Tom (a black quarterback) naturally goes to practice with the quarterbacks and Jason (a jewish widereicever) went to the widereicever practice but they are told to switch. This leads to them and other students researching coach Johnson's and the school's history. With the help of some reporters they put out a story that sent reporters from around t Two kids (Tom and Jason) from New York are invited to a football camp one year and get a scholarship to TGP high school. On the first day of school, Tom (a black quarterback) naturally goes to practice with the quarterbacks and Jason (a jewish widereicever) went to the widereicever practice but they are told to switch. This leads to them and other students researching coach Johnson's and the school's history. With the help of some reporters they put out a story that sent reporters from around the world. Eventually this lead to them playing the positions they wanted and winning a do-or-die game together. This book has a great idea and brings up great points but is executed lazily. I think we can all agree that the discussions that are brought up in this book are very important and the overall idea of the book is good. What I think is done bad is that it doesn't really challenge the reader. I am not certainly not the best reader and I could pretty easily predict what was going to happen in the next chapter. For an example, once I figured out the main idea, (trying to pin down Coach Johnson and the school for their actions) which was on like page 50, the main plot turning points were gone. This would of been fine if the book did something I wasn't expecting but it didn't so the second half of the book for me was very long. To be honest I was expecting a lot more football in this book. I would say that you don't need to know to much about football to read this book. You would really this book if you like investigations and a little mystery. Some life lessons you would learn in this book would be just because no one else is doing it doesn't mean it is the wrong thing to do.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Christine Smith

    To be honest, I am not one for books based on a sport. Maybe it is because I trip over my own feet and can't conceptualize what it means to be an athlete. However, John Feinstein knows how to write a good book! Best friends 14-year-old Jason, a wide receiver and Tom, a quarterback receive a full scholarship to attend an elite sports prep-school and they both are excited to concentrate on their one true love; football! However, they become confused when the coaching staff places Tom who is black To be honest, I am not one for books based on a sport. Maybe it is because I trip over my own feet and can't conceptualize what it means to be an athlete. However, John Feinstein knows how to write a good book! Best friends 14-year-old Jason, a wide receiver and Tom, a quarterback receive a full scholarship to attend an elite sports prep-school and they both are excited to concentrate on their one true love; football! However, they become confused when the coaching staff places Tom who is black with the receivers, and Jason, who is white with the quarterbacks. Realizing that their protests were getting nowhere, they begin to question the stereotypes and bias' that surrounds them. They and a few of their friends begin to investigate the obvious racism and favoritism that is at the heart of the school culture. However, will all their snooping get them kicked out of school and off the team? Wouldn't it just be easier to go home and start over? Making a brave choice to stay and get to the bottom of the culture at their school enables them to build a stronger bond and find their voice. I really did enjoy the story and the bravery it takes to speak out and up against social injustice. Both Tom and Jason are so young, just 14 years old, and this is a great story that illustrates everyone has a choice and that it is brave to speak out. My one criticism is that the ending was just a little too neat for me. But, all in all, it was a great book and I enjoyed it very much.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Braydon

    Tom and Jason are happy in their public school in New York City, but they are both great football players and spend a summer at a football camp. Afterwards, they are offered spots at the prestigious sports prep academy in Virginia. Even though their mothers are less than thrilled about them playing football at all they are offered scholarships that make the very expensive school seem worth it. Right away, things get weird. The boys expect to room together, but are separated. They are assigned po Tom and Jason are happy in their public school in New York City, but they are both great football players and spend a summer at a football camp. Afterwards, they are offered spots at the prestigious sports prep academy in Virginia. Even though their mothers are less than thrilled about them playing football at all they are offered scholarships that make the very expensive school seem worth it. Right away, things get weird. The boys expect to room together, but are separated. They are assigned positions that they don't normally play. When they ask about these things, the coaches are very put out and make it clear that they are not to be contradicted. Jason is Jewish and Tom is black, and the boys soon start to pick up on subtle and not so subtle hints of racism in the school. Jason's roommate, a self-proclaimed "good ol' boy" named Billy Bob is from Alabama and does not share these prejudices, but he has spent more time in the South and understands how things work. When the boys realize that there has never been a black quarterback, and roommates are assigned along racial lines, they contact sports writers and start an investigation, especially into the most offensive coach as well as Gatch, the founder of the school, who has alarming ties to people whose track record on race is horrendous. Can the boys come up with concrete proof that things are not being done properly at their school?

  23. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    This story is about two best friends that play football and they go away together to a prep school where they can better their skills at the positions they play in football and hopefully get noticed by a big collage where they can get a full scholorship for playing football. when practice starts things take on a drastic change that Tom and Jason never thought they would have to deal with. Tom was forced to practice as a wide receiver when he always played quarter back and Jason is forced to play This story is about two best friends that play football and they go away together to a prep school where they can better their skills at the positions they play in football and hopefully get noticed by a big collage where they can get a full scholorship for playing football. when practice starts things take on a drastic change that Tom and Jason never thought they would have to deal with. Tom was forced to practice as a wide receiver when he always played quarter back and Jason is forced to play quarter back and punt returner when he always was a wide receiver. At first they think its just a mix up but then when the games start they are forced to stand on the side lines and watch and they no without a doubt that they are better than the players that are starters. They tell two newspaper reporters what is going on and they start to investigate, slowly secrets start to come out. before they blow this whole story open they have to make sure they have all the facts before they start making accusations. a very interesting story... Thanks for choosing me as a winner of this book. It kept me captured all the way through. I didnt get lost with the football terminology because I love football. I felt so bad for the players involved and its sad that we have to still deal with this kind of behavior, but the young men handled it well and they were respectful. GREAT JOB!!

  24. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I received this as an ARC at BEA. Jason is a stellar wide receiver, who is also white and Jewish. His best friend, Tom, is a stellar quarterback, who is also black. The only thing that really mattered between these two was how well they played football together. They have dreams of playing professionally together. To work toward this dream, the two attend a prestigious athletic school, TGP. Once at the school, the two quickly notice something rotten. The coaches have switched the positions Jason I received this as an ARC at BEA. Jason is a stellar wide receiver, who is also white and Jewish. His best friend, Tom, is a stellar quarterback, who is also black. The only thing that really mattered between these two was how well they played football together. They have dreams of playing professionally together. To work toward this dream, the two attend a prestigious athletic school, TGP. Once at the school, the two quickly notice something rotten. The coaches have switched the positions Jason and Tom play, the best friends are not allowed to room together, and a mean undercurrent runs beneath the school administration's facade. Jason and Tom fight to expose the racist underbelly of this school, with help from some of their new friends and local journalists. While most of the football talk went completely over my head, I totally get why the teen guys at my library are obsessed with Feinstein's books. The mystery element quickly pushes readers along. The characters are real and relatable. This novel did not have any questionable elements like sex or swearing, which makes it easier for me to put this book into younger hands. The story was well developed and is a novel I will certainly recommend.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*

    Feinstein, John Backfield Boys, 353 pages. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2017. $18. Language: PG (13 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (football violence, some yelling) Jason and Tom, best friends from New York City, have been offered scholarships as freshmen to a very expensive elite-athlete boarding school in Virginia. Tom is an outstanding quarterback and Jason has the makings of a top line wide-receiver. When they get to school, however, Jason is assigned to be a backup quarterback, w Feinstein, John Backfield Boys, 353 pages. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2017. $18. Language: PG (13 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (football violence, some yelling) Jason and Tom, best friends from New York City, have been offered scholarships as freshmen to a very expensive elite-athlete boarding school in Virginia. Tom is an outstanding quarterback and Jason has the makings of a top line wide-receiver. When they get to school, however, Jason is assigned to be a backup quarterback, while Tom has been put with the receivers. What’s going on. And the boys, best friends forever, weren’t assigned as roommates, either. It really can’t be because Tom is black, could it? Not in 2017 - right?! But there is something wrong about at TGP - maybe the boys really are right. If so, how do they prove it, or will they just walk out? Feinstein has written a football book perfect for the year. I don’t know when he started writing this one, but it feels like he finished it yesterday. Very up to date, very frank and honest about modern racism. LOVED it! MS, HS - ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher https://kissthebook.blogspot.com/2017...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ruthy

    The summary for this book would be how 2 kids who were different have the same dream and have the opportunity to achieve their dream. With obstacles blocking their way, they start to doubt. While they're at this new school they make new friends and all 4 of them decide to speak out what's happening inside of the walls of the private school. As the kids go through many obstacles to try to speak out and try to not get expelled or caught in general. As their plan during the dance goes well, they de The summary for this book would be how 2 kids who were different have the same dream and have the opportunity to achieve their dream. With obstacles blocking their way, they start to doubt. While they're at this new school they make new friends and all 4 of them decide to speak out what's happening inside of the walls of the private school. As the kids go through many obstacles to try to speak out and try to not get expelled or caught in general. As their plan during the dance goes well, they decided they had to do everything they could before they get expelled. The book deals with a lot of discrimination, and it shows even at the end how even if we had a president that was of color, it doesn't mean that racism is gone. It just makes those people hide, this is easier in a school that's private and where teachers can talk to students by themselves. It shows how people should stand up and speak out for friends or for themselves. This book is really good to read this year especially because of how many people that support racism have started acting like it's normal. Mostly because of the news and how they think that's it's okay to support something horrible. This year many have spoken about racism and discrimination in general, especially the last few months.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Taylor Black

    I really liked this book and this is for many different reasons. One of the reasons is that i just love sports especially football so that automatically makes it a book i want to read. Another reason was that i really liked the plot of the story. The idea of 4 freshman boys trying to take down a racist head coach and a racist owner of the school is just really cool to me. Then you mix in football with another good story like that and i'm guaranteed to like it. Also my favorite character was Bill I really liked this book and this is for many different reasons. One of the reasons is that i just love sports especially football so that automatically makes it a book i want to read. Another reason was that i really liked the plot of the story. The idea of 4 freshman boys trying to take down a racist head coach and a racist owner of the school is just really cool to me. Then you mix in football with another good story like that and i'm guaranteed to like it. Also my favorite character was Billy-Bob cause i liked his personality and his efforts to help take down the racists. You should read this book for many different reasons. One of those reasons being that you will be locked on this book when you are reading it. There is never a dull moment in this book and there's always surprises and plot twists. Another reason is that all the main characters in this book are really fun to read about and learn about, they all bring something different to the table but they all want to accomplish the same goal. Last you should read this book simply on the plot of the book and how fascinatiing that is and how only 4 freshman manage to do this.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Brennan

    Fueled by on-the-field action, Backfield Boys delivers a fast-paced story that triangulates sports, mystery and racial injustice in a perfect voice for Middle School readers. Tom and Jason, best friends, have grown up in NYC as an unstoppable duo of Quarterback and Wide-Receiver. Both receive scholarships to play at a prestigious boarding school in Virginia. Upon arrival, neither is assigned to the position for which he was recruited, and both boys are "stonewalled" when they raise questions. Si Fueled by on-the-field action, Backfield Boys delivers a fast-paced story that triangulates sports, mystery and racial injustice in a perfect voice for Middle School readers. Tom and Jason, best friends, have grown up in NYC as an unstoppable duo of Quarterback and Wide-Receiver. Both receive scholarships to play at a prestigious boarding school in Virginia. Upon arrival, neither is assigned to the position for which he was recruited, and both boys are "stonewalled" when they raise questions. Signs and symptoms of racism rise to the surface with each passing day, and when professional reporters get involved, a covert operation ensues. Backfield Boys is a story of courage, perseverance and friendship. While it will raise teen awareness of social injustice, it also relies upon stereotypes to unfold its own story. Middle grade readers may find it tough to view Virginia or other southern states in an objective light after enveloping themselves in undeniably realistic work of fiction. ARC copy via Netgalley ~ Lisa Brennan, Middle School Librarian @noveltalk

  29. 5 out of 5

    Jenn

    When Jason and Tom were accepted to a prestigious athletic program together, they were excited that they could play football on the same team, just like they had done the whole time they were growing up. However, when they get to the school, they know something is off immediately, because they were assigned different positions than they had ever played. They soon realize that the problem is even bigger than reassignment; there is a deep seeded tradition of segregation at their new school, and th When Jason and Tom were accepted to a prestigious athletic program together, they were excited that they could play football on the same team, just like they had done the whole time they were growing up. However, when they get to the school, they know something is off immediately, because they were assigned different positions than they had ever played. They soon realize that the problem is even bigger than reassignment; there is a deep seeded tradition of segregation at their new school, and things won't change unless they can prove it. With like-able characters and a fast paced story, teens will have a hard time putting this book down. *This story feels like it has been ripped from the headlines. It is timely, although I do worry that this fact could date it a bit in the future. I kept wanting to discuss it with friends and colleagues as I was reading, and had to remind myself that this was fiction, and not a news story.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Zion

    Back­field Boys is the great sto­ry of two young friends trapped racial Injuctice, and their strug­gle to make a way through it with­out being con­sumed. I like this book because a lot of things that happened in this book I have seen in my life. I play quarterback and I have been put at wide receiver many times. My book answers the question How do “texts” portray protest and power? I think that in this book the coaches had all the power a chose to use it the wrong way. "You two should make histo Back­field Boys is the great sto­ry of two young friends trapped racial Injuctice, and their strug­gle to make a way through it with­out being con­sumed. I like this book because a lot of things that happened in this book I have seen in my life. I play quarterback and I have been put at wide receiver many times. My book answers the question How do “texts” portray protest and power? I think that in this book the coaches had all the power a chose to use it the wrong way. "You two should make history. How many great quarterback-receiver combinations have the black guy throwing to the white guy?" this is a great example to show that the coach thought this was a very rare sight. I rec­om­mend this book for young read­ers. This book shares a good mes­sage about stand­ing up for what is correct. The nov­el over­flows with foot­ball realities and plays, and would be a per­fect book for any eager foot­ball play­er or football fan.

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