My rating: 5 of 5 stars
When Marcus moves to a new town, he doesn’t have any friends. While practicing football for impending tryouts, he strikes up an unlikely friendship with former NFL star Charlie Popovich, nicknamed “The King of Pop”. Charlie is a charismatic prankster, and the best football player Marcus has ever seen. But when his behavior starts getting more and more erratic, Marcus learns the secret that Charlie’s family is desperate to hide: Charlie is suffering from early onset Alzheimer’s from the concussions he sustained while playing professional football.I don't usually read books about sports but this was an exception...and boy am I glad I made an exception in this case. Yes, there's a lot of football talk and I mostly skimmed over those parts but this story is also about friendship, family, and compassion. Charlie has a secret but he doesn't really know it. His family tries their best to keep his secret from those who know him but Marcus is determined to find out "what's with this guy?" Most adults know how devastating the effects of Alzheimer's are on the family of those who are afflicted with it but I wonder how many young adults are aware of it. I think this story does well to show the progression of the disease and the heartbreak it is for those who know and love someone suffering with it. Pop made me laugh and cry...this is a story that will stay with you long after you read the last page.
As Marcus starts at his new school, he meets the starting quarterback: Troy Popovich. Right from the beginning, Marcus and Troy disagree — about football, about Troy’s ex-girlfriend Alyssa, but most of all, about what’s good for Charlie’s future. Marcus is betting that he knows what’s best for The King of Pop. And he will risk everything to help his friend.
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