Out of the Pocket

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Title: Out of the Pocket
Author: Bill Konigsberg
Publisher: Dutton Juvenile
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Length: Novel, 272 pages (print, ebook, audiobook)
Rating: 5 stars out of 5

A guest review by Leslie


BLURB

Star quarterback Bobby Framingham, one of the most talented high school football players in California, knows he’s different from his teammates. They’re like brothers, but they don’t know one essential thing: Bobby is gay. Can he still be one of the guys and be honest about who he is? When he’s outed against his will by a student reporter, Bobby must find a way to earn back his teammates’ trust and accept that his path to success might be more public, and more difficult, than he’d hoped. An affecting novel about identity that also delivers great sportswriting.

REVIEW

I went to my thirtieth high school reunion a few years ago, and much to my surprise, our HS football star was there with his partner. Who knew he was gay—none of us, that’s for sure. Would that our Bobby (yes, he has the same name) and the rest of us could have read the story of Bobby Framingham in Out of the Pocket. I bet his high school years would have been a whole lot easier and more pleasant—not that any of us knew it was unpleasant at the time. Such is the tragedy of the closet.

I accidentally stumbled across Out of the Pocket while rummaging around on Amazon, although if I had been paying attention, I might have discovered it sooner since it was published in September, 2008. In May, it won the Lambda Award for best LGBT Children/Young Adult book and in my opinion is very deserving. I hope that helps this book get the recognition it needs because it should be on the shelf of every high school library in this country (probably junior high, too) as well as public libraries. It has an important message that needs to get out, told in a open, accessible, and entertaining way.

When I discovered the book, I downloaded a sample, enjoyed it, bought the book, and then had one of those mornings where, instead of doing “real” work, I spent six hours with my nose glued to the e-Ink screen of my Kindle. The story just pulled me in and I couldn’t stop reading, even though I kept telling myself I had more pressing things to do. Uh, no. Reading this book is what is important.

The story is told from Bobby’s first person POV. He’s known he’s gay for awhile and has been ruminating on this fact for the better part of a year. At the start of his senior year he decides he needs to share this information with a close friend—swearing him to secrecy, of course. Before long, Bobby’s “secret” is pretty common knowledge but he is managing to keep the fallout under control, until he is outed by a classmate in an article in the school newspaper. At that point, all hell breaks loose and Bobby’s life spins into orbit. What follows—how he picks up the pieces, puts things back in order, comes to terms with himself, family and friends—makes a compelling story.

I am giving this book five stars because I think everyone should read it, but I do include one caveat: it’s not perfect. There are lots of scenes on the football field that go on a little too long and there is an interlude where Bobby’s dad gets sick and goes away for treatment. I’m not really sure why that was included or what the point was. As for the football scenes—they are easy enough to skim and I suppose for the target audience, I presume young men in high school—they might be the necessary hook to draw them into the book and keep them reading.

All in all, I highly recommend this book. It’s an “important” book that makes its point effectively without hitting you over the head with it. The writing is snappy and fast paced, evoking locales, images, and ah, yes, wonderful high school memories. As for Bobby, he’s a quarterback so, yeah, he’s hot. You’ll be wishing for more than one sexy kiss with the guy who becomes his boyfriend, but that’s what imaginations are for.

Read this book.

9 thoughts on “Out of the Pocket

  1. Wave

    Sean
    I bought this used from amazon and hope that I’ll get it in a couple of weeks. I’m so looking forward to reading it.

    **

    Great review Leslie.

  2. Leslie Post author

    Thanks for you comment, Sean, and I’ll be curious what you think, Wave. Obviously I think it is a terrific book. I’ll be interested to see if you agree.
    *
    I friended Bill Konigsberg and FB and invited him to stop by. Welcome, Bill, if you see this.
    *
    L

    1. Bill

      Thanks, Leslie, for an awesome review! I’m glad the book was meaingful to you, and I appreciate your critique, positive as well as negative.

      A lot of people have told me that it’s a quick read, and I take that as a huge complement. If people are reading it in one sitting, it means they’re involved in the world of the book, and that’s the best news I can get.

      Your comment about the father’s illness is a good one. The reason I included it was to add some intensity to Bobby’s predicament. For some people it works, but for a lot of readers, they felt it was less than necessary. Oh well, write and learn.

      I’m glad to stop by and chat with anyone about the book… so if you’re on here and have a question, ask away, and I’ll be happy to try and answer it.

      Thanks!

  3. Leslie Post author

    Hi Bill, welcome! Glad you could make it for a visit.
    *
    I am happy you liked the review. I really enjoyed the book and have recommended it to many people. As for the dad’s illness thing…well, I am a nurse so I do notice the healthcare stuff, especially when it makes no sense (that didn’t happen in this case). But like you said, write and learn and now you have a nurse resource if you need some feedback on a future draft (hint, hint…LOL).
    *
    You said we could ask questions? Great. Give me a description of Bobby. Because it was written from his POV, he never really talks about what he looks like. Although I said he was hot, that was implied and not really described. Here’s the chance for Wave and all her friends to get it direct from the author’s pen. Will you oblige? :-)
    *
    L

    1. Bill

      Sure, I guess I can describe him. I mean, as I see him, anyway, since a lot of this is really up to you, the reader. In fact, I think that’s one of the problems with movies; Tales of the City the movie was great but Brian and Michael totally looked wrong to me and that was hard to get over. So I don’t want to say too much that will ruin how you saw him.

      To me, the author: he’s just over 6-feet tall, blond, but the kind of blond who tans well, not too light skinned. He has a great smile, the kind that lights up a room. He is huge, in a way that starts with his shoulders. If you saw him walking toward you, you wouldn’t notice his legs, you’d notice his shoulders. He has a little extra in the middle. Not like fat, but he’s not a model and he doesn’t have that triangle body that some guys have. Maybe a 32 inch waist. When he gets to be around 40, he’ll definitely has some paunch.

      What else? He doesn’t think of himself as sexy. If someone thought that, he’d probably make a joke about it. And that’s part of his appeal. He’s a really nice guy and while he knows he a great football player, he would never think something like: I’m the best looking guy in school. That’s more something his friend Austin would think about himself.

      I hope this is a good start? Sorry I can’t be more specific, but I’m even a little worried about saying this much. I actually turned down a cover to the book that had pouty lips because I didn’t want people to be given a face before reading it.

      1. Leslie Post author

        This is so cool, Bill, thank you. I love to think we have an exclusive on Bobby Framingham’s looks. LOL. My Bobby (the one I mention in the beginning of the review) was a completely different position…halfback, maybe? He was small, wiry, and dark and ran around a lot. He was also a hunk. LOL.
        *
        Can you tell us more about what is in progress in terms of your writing?
        *
        L

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