Football in Louisana is almost a religion, and it wasn't any different in the 1970's. Something was different in the 70's though. As a southern state, Louisana still wasn't fully on board with desegregation. Rodney Boulet and his twin sister Angie grew up in a small town where mixing blacks and whites still wasn't an accepted idea.
Rodney met Tater Henry on the baseball field when the two played Little League. When Tater, a young black player, boldly stepped on the field, not everyone was thrilled. Tater had solid skills though and earned the reluctant respect of both coaches and players.
As the years passed, Tater and Rodney became true friends. When they weren't playing baseball, they were perfecting their skills at other sports, even swimming when Rodney and Angie could sneak Tater into the city pool where blacks were still not allowed to swim. When it came time to start high school, blacks were beginning to attend the local public high school. Although, many white families sent their children to private schools to avoid desegregation, Rodney and Angie's parents weren't able to afford the necessary tuition. But, Rodney was excited to start high school with his now best friend Tater by his side. He knew their athletic talents would score them sure spots on the football team.
As expected, the team's coaches and players didn't give Tater a warm welcome, but once his speed and quick thinking became evident, he became a valuable member on the field. Rodney didn't really notice Tater's skin color anymore, and the two began a great partnership on the football field.
One thing did change as time passed. Rodney's sister Angie was falling in love. It was one thing to have someone black as his best friend, but Rodney wasn't sure how he felt about his sister having a black boyfriend. He knew for sure that their father wasn't happy about it, and others frequently made their feelings clear as well.
Author John Ed Bradley brings the football action alive and at the same time clearly reveals the racial tension in the South in the early 1970's. Both teen and adult readers will appreciate the struggles of the main characters to form lasting friendships and at the same time deal with the conflicting emotions brought on by the times.
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