Eighteen-year-old high school senior Sean Duffy has grown up considering playing pool and hustling women his main recreation. Though girls think he's cute—he has dimples and freckles—and like his style, Duff struggles with deep feelings of inferiority because he stands only five-three and sees out of only one eye. He hates being different. Secretly, his ultimate goal in life is to hook up with a tall girl. Tall girls turn his heart to mush. His best friend Webster Pierce says Duff lusts after tall girls because he knows he'll never experience the ecstasy of floundering in one's arms. It's like longing for a BMW on a McDonald's salary.
But Duff's chance to hook up with the dream girl of his life becomes reality when he meets six-foot Mari Jo Moon over a pool game, and she takes a liking to him. Making Duff's hustling of Mari Jo even sweeter is the fact that her boyfriend, Brock Hurley, is the guy who accidentally cost Duff the sight in his left eye in a flag football game ten years ago. Since the accident happened so long ago, Brock doesn't recognize Duff and has no idea he cost Duff the sight in his left eye. What a major coup for Duff if he could somehow earn Mari Jo's love and prove that short guys rock. Duff decides Mari Jo will be his last hustle—he's finished with random sex. Mari Jo is tired of Brock, a six-five stud and an all-state football player. He's possessive, domineering, and violent. She invites Duff to her house on Sunday nights, the one night she's free from Brock. She and Duff shoot pool alone, discuss the pros and cons of being different—a tall girl and a short guy—and become romantically involved, finally declaring their love for each other. The only problem is Brock would rather kill Duff than see his girl falling into the arms of a short, one-eyed hustler.
Whether you play pool or not, you'll enjoy this David-and-Goliath struggle as Duff battles for the girl he loves and for self-idenity.
Review by Lyn Seippel, Bookloons
Billy's romance with the beautiful daughter of the university president is over. Even though Lisa has dumped him, she invites him to her eighteenth birthday party. He knows he shouldn't go, but he can't resist.
It's Windy's idea to go with him to the party as his date to show Lisa that he's moved on. But even with a date in tow, Billy can't resist meeting Lisa in the woods behind her house where she tells him that she wants to see him that night.
The party is a bust. First Billy is insulted and called farm boy by Lisa's boyfriend who now knows of their late night trysts in her bedroom. Then he's given a lecture by her dad who threatens him if he doesn't stay away from her.
With all these warnings and the pressure put on him by Windy, the night of the party Billy still goes to Lisa's house, where they make love one last time. When he leaves, he knows that after graduation, just days away, he won't be seeing her again.
That night Lisa is murdered and Billy is the prime suspect. He's the only suspect the Cedar County sheriff needs. Arresting Billy for murder will be payback for something that happened years ago between Sheriff Moody and his dad. If you're looking for a good mystery, Ripslinger's Last Kiss won't let you down.
Review by Lyn Seippel, Bookloons
High school is a ball for popular, athletic Stony Stoneking. When it gets too serious he just keeps smiling until things go his way. The problem is things are getting too serious in too many ways. His girlfriend never stops making it clear that she wants to get married after graduation and the no-fail rule is about to get him kicked off the football team unless he can get his American Lit grade up. His parents are constantly fighting and it's easy to see his dad has a drinking problem. Even his best friend is behaving in a self-destructive way.
Stony's counselor and football coach want to set him up with a tutor. His girlfriend Mindy is jealous of time not spent with her, but he has no choice. He'll have to sign on with the tutor until he can talk her into doing the work for him. Stony's tutor, Robyn Knight, has no intention of doing the work for him and if he can't get with the program and start working, she'll tutor someone who wants to learn. A single mom who is still in high school, Robyn wants to make something of herself. While she wants to give back to her new community, she has no intention of letting Stony slide just because he is a football hero with a wicked smile.
As Stony gets to know Robyn and her son, someone keeps painting a huge red heart with blood dripping from it on the outside of his house. Thinking it must be Mindy, his soon to be ex-girl-friend, he's more annoyed than worried. Mindy is sure Robyn is at the root of all their problems and she can't see what Robyn could have that she isn't willing to give Stony whenever he asks. Robyn finally trusts Stony enough to tell him why she is living with her sister in Thompsonville instead of in Connecticut with her parents. Her son's dad is a psycho who raped her at gun point and has threatened to kill their son.
Stony matures during his final year in high school. When he has to make hard decisions, he is ready. When he faces danger, he doesn't flinch. He also makes decisions about his future instead of just letting the future happen. His relationship with Robyn is sweet and realistic. Derailed is a good read with a nail-biting climax.
How I Fell in Love & Learned to Shoot Free Throws
Review by Booklist
Even as Angel was beating him in free throws, Danny was falling for her. But tall, attractive Angel is a loner, called Stone Angel by her high-school peers. Even so, Danny is hooked. Angel agrees to secretly coach him, but his hopes for a relationship are chipped away by other secrets-about parents. When Angel breaks her ankle, their lies about parents begin to crack. It turns out that Angel's mom is a lesbian with a live-in lover, and when Danny was a baby, his mom left his dad for her ex-boyfriend and was killed in a motorcycle accident. Tensions climb as peer and parental pressures force the teens to confront truth and trust. Issues of gay parents (and test-tube babies) and honesty in relationships are solidly embedded in the high-school scene. The title tease, the male point-of-view, and the sports framework set up the story for boys, but girls will respond to Angel's character and enjoy this, too. The message about individuality and self identity is an effective slam-dunk.
Review by Scholastic
Darin, Joy, and Jeremy's friendship has survived Darin's crippling accident, but can it withstand a summer of love and deception? Darin was a top athlete until a poolside accident left him in a wheelchair. For the past two years, his girlfriend, Joy, and best friend, Jeremy, have stood by him even through his most bitter and abusive moods,. But as Darin becomes increasingly demanding and dependent on alcohol, Joy and Jeremy turn to each other for friendship and solace. One night, after dropping off drunken Darin, the two decide to embark on a "platonic" sexual relationship, promising that they will still just remain friends. But as the summer continues, Jeremy is finding it difficult to suppress his feelings for Joy. Matters get more complicated when Joy discovers she is pregnant. A top softball pitcher in Iowa, she is trying to pitch her high school team to the state title, earn a college scholarship, and deal with the needs of Jeremy and Darin. She finally decides to cut all ties to Jeremy, hoping to convince Darin he is the father. Jeremy knows that Joy doesn't love Darin anymore, and he is adamant that all secrets be told. But nothing has prepared him for the truth about Darin's accident and Joy's role in the incident.
Longer Field Goals to Kick
Seventeen-year-old high school senior Michael Panther falls in love with a girl who tells him that he made her pregnant only to discover the newly born baby boy is not his.
During his senior year in high school, Michael watches his father slowly die of cancer. He suddenly understands how fragile life is and how important it is to be true to the people he loves. He decides to dedicate his senior year to his dad and to concentrate on schoolwork and football. He promises his dad that he is going to be somebody. Michael eventually becomes an all-state football player and earns a college scholarship. When Jodi Jackson, a girl he was involved with briefly during the summer, announces he has made her pregnant, Michael fears the responsibility of being a parent will jeopardize his college career, his football dreams, and his promise to his dad. He volunteers child support for the baby, but backs away from giving Jodi and the baby emotional support. However, as the story unfolds, Jodi and Michael slowly bond. Circumstances force both characters to make serious decisions that will change the rest of their lives.