Book Review: Payback Time by Carl Deuker

I’m not a sports fan by far. I like NASCAR and I love tennis, but that is the extent of my passion right there. NASCAR I watch on occassion, and tennis is an obsession. I have just about every book that comes out about my favorite players and the history of the sport. So when it comes to football? … well, I say my team is the Dallas Cowboys, but really, I never watch it.

(I don’t even watch the Superbowl… not even for the commercials anymore…)

So I picked up Payback Time by Carl Deuker for my students, thinking the boys would love the book. I decided to read it so that I could actually recommend it to my kids without saying… yeah no idea what it’s about.

Boy, am I glad I did.

The blurb from the back of the book: A reporter’s job is to find the missing pieces, and high school journalist Mitch True is on the verge of uncovering those pieces and nailing his first real story. If only he can get cornerback Angel Marichal to talk. Or Coach McNulty to explain why he never allows Angel’s obvious talent – his speed and strength – to shine on the field. What is Angel’s secret? And who profits from keeping the truth hidden?

In a thriller both though-provoking and suspenseful, the award-winning author Carl Deuker shows how investigating someone else’s life can lead to startling discoveries.

My first thoughts before reading the book: I’ll admit, I started thinking of possibilities before I even started the book. I tried to think why a coach would bench a good student. First I thought Angel was gay and the coach was homophobic. Or maybe Angel was caught using steroids and the coach benched him because of that. I wasn’t sure.

My review: This book absolutely blew my expectations out of the water. Mitch is a likeable character and very believable, as is Kimi, his photographer sidekick. The two know there is a story, but they have to dig deep to get it. What I loved about the two is how hard they work to get the story. But the problem is, once they think they know what they have, they don’t explore all the aspects. They are flawed, and that makes them very relatable for students. Mitch and Kimi are so sure they have the whole story, but when they confront Coach McNulty they find out they are incredibly wrong, and their assumptions could lead to a very dangerous end for all involved.

Payback Time does have a lot of football in it; Mitch becomes the sports writer for his school paper, and he discusses each play of the games. However, despite not knowing what most of the terms meant, I still found the book enjoyable and got caught up in the excitement of each game. I wanted to find out Angel’s story just as badly as Mitch and Kimi, and the book does not disappoint. I thought I had it figured out halfway through the novel, but the author has a great twist at the end.

Readers who like sports, mysteries or suspense novels should enjoy this one. Even if you’re not a fan of football, check this book out. It’s about more than just sports.

End of the year… ups?

So my last post talked about the end of the school year and how I’ll be losing my job as well as some other things.


I have some FANTASTIC news on that front! Less than a week after school ended for me, I was offered a job! I’ll be working at a charter school in Manchester! I had my second interview on Monday and they later called to offer me the position. I’m thrilled! The school looks amazing, the curriculum is great, and everyone I met so far (even if I don’t remember everyone’s name… sorry!) has been so nice! My classroom is almost as big as the one I left, which means I don’t have to worry about my crazy book stash! I also have a CLOSET in my room to store materials! *sob*

The room does not have windows, but you know what that means? MORE WALL SPACE TO DECORATE WITH STUDENT WORK!!! And book and movie posters. WHOOO!!!! I am going to be a decorating FOOL when I get in there! I love it!

Having the school so much farther from home (35 minutes versus 5 minutes) means yes, I’ll have to get up earlier, but I can decompress on my way home and rock out to music, which is something I missed about having to drive.

I’m really looking forward to meeting my new bunch of kids. 🙂 It’s going to be an adventure!

They say when one door closes, another one opens. Well, that was definitely true in this case. I’ve been on cloud nine since Monday. And I’ve already started thinking about what I’m going to do with the kids! AHH!!

End of the year blues…

It’s almost the end of the school year. There are only two more full days left and three half days. Last year at this time I would be thrilled to have a few months off to recoup, read, and plan for next year. This year, it’s bittersweet.

Yes, I look forward to a few months of downtime and a lot of reading (and writing. Camp Nano August here I come!) but there are some negatives about it.

First and foremost, because of cuts in the English department, I will not be returning to the Bristol school system next year. It’s devastating to me because I love it so much. I love my coworkers and my students, and I truly do feel that we are all one big family. The last three years at Memorial Boulevard has been an amazing experience and I cherish each moment. I thought I found a home there, and I did. I’ll miss everyone.

Second, not only will I not be in Bristol, but the school I love so much is closing. Memorial  Boulevard is over 90 years old, and the city decided to build two new buildings instead. Yes, I agree that is a bit outdated and needs some work, and yes there is mold in many rooms, but it’s a beautiful piece of architecture and has so much history! My grandmother attended the school when it was a high school in the 1940s. My classroom looks onto a field and is shaded by a beautiful tree that has the most interesting purple/green leaves. I love the pigeons that land on my windowsills and threaten to come into the room if the window is open. I love the squirrels that hang out on the brances and watch the students.

Despite all these things, I know I will find a new home somewhere. I’ve been applying for jobs and the right one will come to me, as everyone says.

It’s just sad to see such a wonderful time come to an end.