Our site will be undergoing maintenance from 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. ET on Saturday, May 20. During this time, Bookshop, checkout, and other features will be unavailable. We apologize for the inconvenience.
Cookies must be enabled to use this website.
Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Book details
  • Genre:FICTION
  • SubGenre:Sports
  • Language:English
  • Pages:296
  • eBook ISBN:9780979882449

Last Chance for First

by Tom Hazuka

Book Image Not Available Book Image Not Available
Last Chance for First. Hazuka, Tom (Author) May 2008. 296 p. Brown Barn, paperback, $8.95. (9780979882401). High-school-junior Robby Fielder is constantly reminded by his parents that he doesn’t measure up to his older, football-star brother. Robby’s sport, much to his dad’s displeasure, is soccer. Dad is also displeased by Robby’s interest in Pet, the new girl at school. Over a period of several weeks, Robby’s teammate is in an alcohol-induced car accident, and his coach resigns after his abusive methods are exposed by video footage on the news. Eventually, Robby finds that Pet taped the coach, he leads his team back to victory,and he becomes Pet’s boyfriend. Stock characters abound: sadistic coach; quirky, nonconformist girl; understanding English teacher; and a confused jock at the center of it all. What sets this apart, however, is the sometimes coarse but always realistic portrait of high-school life. Readers will find plenty that is familiar here, and they will appreciate the somewhat meandering plot that doesn’t tie up all the loose ends. — Todd Morning School Library Journal 9/2008 HAZUKA, Tom. Last Chance for First. 289p. Brown Barn. 2008. pap. $8.95. ISBN 978-0-9798824-0-1. LC 2007938351. Gr 8 Up–Robby Fielder is a varsity soccer co-captain and decent student, but his parents continue to compare him to his football-star older brother and find him lacking. When he and his best friend share a few beers, it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but then Jim continues drinking and totals his car, causing his parents to pull him from the team, where his goalie skills are sorely missed. Meanwhile, Robby is attracted to Pet, whose bleached hair, nose ring, and outspokenness make her an object of derision among their classmates. She opens up to him, revealing a dark secret about her past, and he admires her honesty and longs to keep her trust. Robby’s teammates begin to question his commitment to the squad, and, indeed, as his relationship with Pet develops, it seems that the team’s cohesiveness unravels. Robby is forced to make decisions about where his loyalty really lies: putting the team first will help him to realize his dream of a soccer scholarship, but at what price? Hazuka’s first young adult novel realistically depicts one teen’s struggle to prepare for the future without compromising the present. There are enough plot twists to keep readers guessing, and soccer fans will appreciate the author’s obvious love of the game. While adult figures are fairly two dimensional–the wise teacher, the win-at-all-costs coach–the dialogue and interactions among the teens are spot-on. A solid choice where Chris Crutcher and Mike Lupica have a strong following.
Chapter 1 It started last fall, at the assembly to kick off the annual magazine drive. The whole school was packed in the auditorium to listen to this jolly old guy who looked like Santa Claus without the beard and red suit try to get us psyched up to sell enough magazines to keep the recyclers in business for another year. He said we should show our school spirit and sell a ton of subscriptions so each class would have a pile of money to do whatever it wanted, the yearbook wouldn't go in the red again, etc., etc. Big deal. I was a junior; I'd heard it all before. I'd do my part by selling half a dozen subscriptions to my parents and a few relatives, maybe nice old Mrs. Maruszak down the street. Right now, though, I was more interested in watching Billy Hagan two rows in front of me as he stretched, then slipped his arm around Sarah Malinowski as casually as if he was at the movies. It was the first time in my life I regretted having 20-15 eyesight. The worst part was that she not only let him, but even snuggled a little closer. Sarah, the girl I dated most of the summer, who had sat with me like that at plenty of movies until she told me out of the blue she wanted to see other people. That was a couple of weeks ago, the Friday before Labor Day. We were parked down at the beach, not even making out or anything, just listening to the night. It was dead low tide, no wind at all, and the air smelled rank. "It's not you, Robby," she said. "It's me." When somebody says that, you know it's you. It was impossible not to watch. When I actually have a pretty girl first like me then dump me, and I can see no reason why she did either one, it's natural for me to be interested when she's cuddling up to some jerk I can't stand, the slimiest slimeball in the whole school. My best friend Jim Dolan leaned over to me and whispered, "Guess he's got something you don't have." That's the thing about a guy's best friend--he doesn't cut you any slack. That's not how we operate. A girl's best friend would have told her what a bitch the girl was who stole her boyfriend, how he wasn't good enough for her anyway. A guy just tells a joke and we pretend it's OK, though of course it's not. "Yeah," I told him. "A rich old man and a new BMW." "Don't forget the country club membership, and ski lodge in Vermont." "If Sarah is that shallow, I don't want her anyway." Jim shook his head. "You can't lie to save your life. It's sad, really." "Shh!" Mrs. Joseph the math teacher was in the aisle scowling at us. Maybe she had stock in the magazine company or something. I wanted to yell to her, "Hey! What about Hagan the Degenerate over there molesting my girl friend?" Suddenly this girl stood up, ten rows away from me across the aisle. I'd never seen her before so she was either a freshman or new here, because in a small school you know everybody, by sight at least. She stood up and raised her hand, and with a grin the pudgy magazine man pointed at her. "What can I do you for, little lady?" She hesitated a second. She had short hair so blonde it was almost white, with pale skin to match even after the summertime. Our town is on the beach, Long Island Sound, so it's strange to see a kid with no tan in September. "Whoa," Jim said. "Is she an albino?" Whatever she was, she talked too softly for me to catch what she was saying. Mr. Magazine cupped a hand around one ear and said, "You'll have to speak up, missy. These old ears aren't as sharp as they used to be." Every eye was on this girl as she said, loud enough to reach every corner of the auditorium, "I don't think you care much about this school, or any school. You just want to make money."
About the author
Tom Hauka played varsity soccer in high school and college and still follows the game. He spent his junior year of college in Switzerland, and after graduation, over two years in Chile with the Peace Corps. Currently he teaches fiction writing at Central Connecticut State Univaersity. He has published two adult novels and many award-winning short stories, as well as a book on the NCAA Final Four, travel articles and poetry. LAST CHANCE FOR FIRST is his first crossover novel--for adults and young adults--and returns to his love for soccer.