Reviews for Shooting Star

Booklist Reviews 2009 September #1
McKissack joins the team of novelists offering cautionary tales about the use of illegal steroids by high-school athletes. Increasingly chafed by hearing that he is a promising but undersized football player, Jomo starts a tough weight-training regimen between his freshman and sophomore years. Impatience for quick results leads to a connection with a rogue pharmacist, and although his new physical performance is impressive, the new muscle mass comes with increasingly wild mood swings that leave him alternating between severe attacks of guilt and uncontrolled fits of aggression on the field and against his girlfriend. Worse, when he tries to quit the "juicing," he discovers that he is addicted. The author gives his middle-class protagonist a good heart and brain, surrounds him with unusually well-drawn peers and adults, and leaves him at the end courageously stepping up to take his licks rather than make excuses for what he has done. A well-knit and not entirely one-note story, this stands up with the likes of Robert Lipsyte's Raiders Night (2006) and Carl Deuker's Gym Candy (2007). Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2010 Spring
"You're a little undersized...but you've got football smarts." Constantly reminded of his shortcomings by coaches and friends, sophomore Jomo Rodgers decides to enhance his size and performance through steroids. As his physique grows, so does the rage within him. Sharp dialogue, authentic characters, and engaging relationships elevate this cautionary tale of an athlete spiraling out of control. Copyright 2010 Horn Book Magazine Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 July #2
Sophomore Jomo Rodgers knows he could be a college-football prospect if he had more size. His best friend Jayson, with great football skills and pro-player size, is constantly getting attention from college scouts. Having little faith that this will happen naturally, Jomo begins taking steroids and revels in the changes he sees and feels in his new physique. Of course, the ill effects of the drugs and dealing with their supplier begin, and Jomo is desperate to cope with the situation. A near tragedy explodes Jomo's secret. This is much more than a cautionary tale about steroid use in high-school students. Jomo is one of a handful of African-American students in a private school, an aspect of the story handled with nuance and insight. The dialogue is smart; Jomo's relationships with his peers, his girlfriend and his college-professor father ring true. Even the limited appearance of Jomo's mother (his parents are experiencing marital difficulties) provides insight into Jomo's personality. A strong narrative and layered characterizations elevate this timely story. (Fiction. 12 & up) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2009 September

Gr 8 Up--African-American Jomo Rodgers is a talented if somewhat undersized defensive back on his high school's football team. Overshadowed by Jayson Caldwell, his best friend and the team's star running back, Jomo, after much hesitation, decides to take the steroid route to fame, with tragic results for himself, his team, and those he loves. This is no simplistic "problem" novel--Jomo is a complex character whose ambitions are at war with his personal sense of morality. While the adults in his life are intelligent and caring, they seem too absorbed in their own issues to give him the guidance he needs. His father, a former college athlete and student activist who teaches African-American studies, is embittered by what he experienced and observed of the treatment of athletes (especially black athletes) at the college level. His anger and resentment have driven his wife away and led to excessive drinking and problems in his relationship with Jomo. Coaches seem oblivious to the signs of Jomo's steroid use until it is too late. High school football players in particular will recognize how mixed messages about pushing one's body to the limit can often lead young athletes to make bad choices. Jomo's self-serving rationalizations will resonate with anyone who has faced a difficult moral decision. Profane and scatological language abounds, but it is not outside the realm of what one could hear any day in a school locker room. Top-notch sports fiction.--Richard Luzer, Fair Haven Union High School, VT

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VOYA Reviews 2009 December
Jomo Rogers loves to play football, even though he is not as gifted as his best friend, Jayson. Jayson is the real star of the Cranmar Colonels. He can run and pass the ball like a pro. Jomo wants to be like him, but does not possess the physical prowess that was bestowed upon Jayson. Jomo begins training every day during the off-season, but is unable to build the muscle mass needed to become a great player. Inevitably Jomo begins "juicing." The steroids work quickly, turning Jomo into 185 pounds of pure muscle. The drugs also alter Jomo's personality. He becomes ruthless, both on and off the playing field. Jomo knows that he is hooked on the drug, and he begins to wonder if there is any hope left for him McKissack tackles a subject that many student athletes face on a daily basis. Does one take the easy way out to reach a goal or continue to work hard and perhaps never reach number one status? Jomo opts for the easy road, but he eventually learns from his mistakes. McKissack's story moves quickly, as readers see how rapidly the steroids take over Jomo's life. Characters are well developed, and the story is engaging. This must-purchase novel would be perfect for reluctant readers. They will enjoy it because of McKissack's candid writing style.--Jonatha Basye 4Q 4P J S Copyright 2009 Voya Reviews.