Underachiever Rooster is too smart to let slip through the system, so his exasperated English teacher finds a way to both punish him for his misbehaviors in class and allow him to graduate, dependent on his success at this new assignment: he can volunteer at rec center, where he’ll work with a group of mentally disabled adults who want to bring their bowling league to the Special Olympics. Getting along with the principal’s daughter who is also assigned to work on this project with Rooster is an additional challenge. Will he rise to the occasion or drop the ball?
In spite of the choices Rooster makes, he is a sympathetic character. The adult characters are distinct and are portrayed as his equals. Rooster grows as a person through this opportunity, but the story lacks depth and occasionally drags. Shifting point of view may be responsible for the detraction from Rooster’s internal monologue; Trembath could have limited to the protagonist’s perspective to show Rooster’s talent for writing, instead of having his teacher tell us he excels at writing. The ending is predictable. Still, this realistic, bad boy tale will have appeal to reluctant readers.
This review was originally published on the Hip Librarian’s Book Blog December 26, 2005.