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Brock Ripley was painfully aware of many things.

One: His father would never be the same and watching his parents try to be enthusiastic about things only made it worse.

Two: Hunter Gates was the notorious bully that crushed anybody who so much as looked at him the wrong way. Despite this, Brock desperately wanted to prove himself to him, especially since it was because of Hunter that Brock discovered his love for football, and that only made things worse.

Three: He didn't want to befriend Richie Fang. Brock had only asked if the seat was open, not if Richie wanted a best friend. The fact that Brock actually ended up liking the guy only complicated matters, which of course, continued making things worse.

Four: Brock couldn't seem to stand and fight, not even when his career in sports and his friendships depended on it. This was the worst of all. He was a coward, had a big, fat, yellow streak running down his back and everybody knew it.

"As somebody who is far from interested in sports I can truthfully say that even the most unathletic of readers will enjoy GUTLESS."

Carl Deuker goes from family to friendship to sports and back in a mostly relatable story told from the point of view of Brock Ripley. I'm not sure how many people are naturally varsity football material like Brock, but I know that GUTLESS strays from the field enough to leave room for other relatable topics. Like Brock, everybody has problems and fears even if they always have a smile on their face. This was probably the main idea of the book (I swear I haven't spoiled anything) and Carl Deuker definitely did a great job at portraying it. The build-up of the story left me wondering when my prediction would occur.

As somebody who is far from interested in sports I can truthfully say that even the most unathletic of readers will enjoy GUTLESS. For the first time ever, I found myself enjoying a sport. There were times when I was really lost but even so, the football "plays” did not overshadow enough of a scenario to leave me completely at a loss.

The characters in GUTLESS were admittedly stereotypical. Richie is the overachieving foreigner. Hunter is the handsome jock that enjoys harassing those below him on the social pyramid. Brock is your average Joe that just so happens to have a paralyzing fear and a natural talent for football. Despite the small dissatisfaction of the lack of development from some characters, the climax was anticipated. I wondered chapter after chapter about when my prediction would come true. Every time something seemed to be over, it wasn’t. The ending was surprisingly (and unusually) satisfying, though.

Even though GUTLESS was incredibly different from a book called FALL FROM GRACE by Charles Benoit, I found similarities in the main characters. So if you've read Benoit's book, make sure to check out GUTLESS.

On that note, if you like books about sports and facing fears, GUTLESS would be a great next read! Especially if you are a reader that has no qualms about facing facts and enjoys insight on topics, such as bullying, that are widely ignored at schools.

Reviewed by Flor H., Teen Board Member on September 19, 2016

by Carl Deuker