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Pacey parallel lives page-turner that sees a promising American footballer grabble with vital issues around privilege
Neal Shusterman’s incisive, inventive Game Changer raises the bar for speculative YA fiction as it confronts privilege, racism, sexism, homophobia and the devastating consequences of not speaking out head-on. It’s also an absolute page-turner, alive with relatable characters and authentic young adult voices.
“There are choices we make, choices that are made for us, and things we ignore long enough until all choices have fallen away. I’ve been plenty guilty of ignoring stuff I don’t want to deal with.” This quote from protagonist Ash sums up the dominant sentiment underpinning this powerful novel. He’s a High Schooler with a diverse friendship group, which, at one time, he believed “checked my box of social responsibility. Like there was nothing more for me to do than have some brown at the table.” In Ash’s case that’s his Black best friend and team-mate Leo. A talented American footballer, Ash loves “the way it felt to smash through an offensive line”. Then, after one such smash, he finds himself knocked into a changed reality. At first, the shift in Ash’s universe is barely perceptible, but with each game, with each smash, he’s knocked into increasingly changed parallel worlds that provide jaw-dropping perspectives on our own. At one point he’s shifted into a shocking segregated reality in which all his teammates are white.
Shusterman also shines a glaring light on coercively controlling relationships, homophobia and how “we vilify the difference in others” and “glorify the differences in ourselves.” Tension builds brilliantly as Ash works to return to his world with renewed insights, with the parallel world set-up serving as a smart allegory for us all to do better - to make choices that will make the world a fairer place. Through Ash readers are called to question their own actions - and inaction - such as when he admits that “Sometimes I would rationalize the intolerance of friends and look the other way. You know how a friend says a joke that maybe shouldn’t have been said? Rather than calling them out on it, you let it go. Pretend it doesn’t matter.” This gripping ground-breaker exposes the inexcusable upshots of looking the other way.
A TV adaptation of Game Changer is in development with Netflix. Neal is cowriting this with Brian Yorkey, who adapted 13 Reasons Why for Netflix.
As a star player on his high school American football team, Ash is used to taking some hard hits. But that one run in his last game must have knocked him a little loose, because suddenly his life doesn't look quite the way he remembers it. As Ash bounces into worlds that are almost-but-not-really his own, he starts to question everything, including his own perceptions and place in his own reality. But can he even work out how to get back there?
An ambitious and magnetic novel from the New York Times bestselling Neal Shusterman, about a teenage American football player forced into a series of parallel lives.
|Publication date:||11th February 2021|
|Publisher:||Walker Books Ltd|
|Suitable for:||13+ readers, YA readers|
|Genres:||Gritty Reads, Personal Social Health Economic , Politics & Law, School Stories, Science Fiction, Sporting Stories|
Award-winning author Neal Shusterman grew up in Brooklyn, New York, where he began writing at an early age. After spending his junior and senior years of high school at the American School of Mexico City, Neal went on to UC Irvine, where he made his mark on the UCI swim team, and wrote a successful humor column. Within a year of graduating, he had his first book deal, and was hired to write a movie script. In the years since, Neal has made his mark as a successful novelist, screenwriter, and television writer. As a full-time writer, he claims to ...More About Neal Shusterman
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