Miss Riki’s Review:
The year is 1969 and Tater Henry’s town is slow to desegregate and leave deep-seated prejudices behind. The town has never seen a black quarterback before, and some folks around town don’t think they’re ready now, despite Tater’s obvious athleticism. Rodney Boulett and his twin sister Angie befriend Tater and as their friendship grows stronger, Tater and Rodney form a special bond on the football field. Together, they are unstoppable. Everything Rodney knows to be true from his upbringing is challenged when it becomes clear that Tater and Angie’s relationship takes steps from mere friendship to something more. Rodney is forced to face his own prejudices and face a hatred he didn’t know existed inside of himself.
Taking place in the South in a time when there was still a great racial divide, this novel is haunting and heartbreaking. It is first and foremost a coming-of-age story, and second a romance. Set against a heavy sports backdrop, the story unfolds at a nice pace and delves right into the nitty gritty of the prejudices of the time. Rodney’s family is split in opinion on desegregation, with his father strictly against it and his mother on the more tolerant side. And of course, Angie has no prejudices. Rodney himself straddles the line. On one hand he is best friends with Tater and sees him as a close confidant, yet on the other hand he is having a hard time reconciling the idea that his sister would fall in love with and date a black man. There is pain in his personal reconciliation that drives the plot forward.
This novel tackles the complicated racial divide of the times with sensitivity. It is complex and engaging. The characters are well drawn and relatable and the conflict is tense throughout the entirety of the novel. The ending is by all means heartbreaking, but not in the ways that you might expect. With a bittersweet ending, the novel remains true to its origins without ever becoming sentimental.