Gr 8 Up—Fifteen-year-old Floyd's whole life revolves around tennis. Since he was a toddler, his father has been preparing him to be one of the youngest U.K. tennis champions ever, and to compete at Wimbledon at a record age. But when a mysterious guy named Mike starts showing up at his practices, Floyd begins to get more than a little annoyed—especially when he finds out no one else can see the young guy wandering onto the court. So begins Floyd's sessions with Dr. Pinner, who helps him realize just exactly who Mike might be, and why Floyd is the only one bothered by it. This is a enchanting coming-of-age tale, with a young man struggling to come to terms with his future and what he really wants out of life. Anyone who has tried to live up to their parents' desires and expectations will be able to connect with Floyd as he begins his journey of self-discovery. The tone and pacing of this book make it a great recommendation for reluctant readers, and the normalizing approach the author takes with Floyd's trips to the therapist will be a comfort to those that struggle with their own self-identity and counseling appointments. VERDICT Recommended for all high school and young adult public library collections.—Amanda Toth, Lane Libraries, Fairfield, OH
Tennis-whiz Floyd knows exactly what he'll be when he grows up; Mike, a new, mysterious acquaintance, has other ideas.
Floyd's white, affluent parents are passionate about tennis; the family business is building tennis courts in Sheffield, England. Unlike Floyd, his dad started late on the path to becoming a tennis pro only to have an injury permanently end his career. After spotting Floyd's coach about to hit another child in training, his dad took over coaching Floyd himself. He's a good coach and loving father, and Floyd is acutely sensitive to how invested both parents are in his career. When Floyd, age 5, won his first tournament, his parents rewarded him with a tropical fish. A decade of wins later, his collection takes up five tanks. Floyd's puzzled by Mike, a strange boy who shows up occasionally. Only when Mike distracts him during a match does Floyd discover that only he can see Mike. Soon, with psychologist Dr. Pinner as guide, Floyd embarks on an urgent journey: to learn who Mike is, figure out what he wants, and realize that, when choosing our path through life, who we listen to matters. If the omniscient narrative voice, psychic distance, and a plot spanning years defy YA norms, what results has the enigmatic resonance of parable.
Covering considerable ground—literally and figuratively—this short, lucid novel leaves readers plenty to ponder, including its intriguing cover. (Fiction. 12-14)