Fifty-four minutes after Kris Hopkins was born, his father snuck into the hospital nursery and slid a miniature football into his hands. It has been there ever since, helping him through the death of his mother, through a childhood with a single parent that was always working, even getting him a college education.
Now thirty-seven and the aging star quarterback for the Portland Warriors, Kris suffers his fifth concussion and for the first time is forced to take stock of the life around him. Of the son that abhors football and goes out of his way to avoid games. Of the college sweetheart and mother of his child he never did right by. Of the fancy car and posh home that all lend themselves to an image he never intended to create.
More than that though, it forces him to take stock of his own mortality and trying to determine how someone that has always identified himself as a football player comes to grips with that part of his life ending.
One of the things I've always very much appreciated in Dustin Steven's writing, is the raw honesty of his characters. Whether it's their physical appearance, their behavior or thoughts, Dustin always gives you a 'real', unapologetic person.
Although knowing next to nothing about football, the thrill of the game, the locker room excitement and the fan-euphoria described was contagious. Just as vivid was Kris' struggle coming to terms with his new, post-injury reality.
Where it fell short for me, was Kris' personal life. His character struggles with finding a balance between "Kris Hopkins" and "the quarterback", and that conflict almost translated itself into the writing as well. Where "the quarterback's" turmoil was expressed so well, Kris' emotions when it comes to his personal relationships, remained a complete mystery throughout the book. To me it felt like there is so much more to this character and his story, and therefore the book just didn't live up to it's full potential. Missed opportunity.