A kid filled with rage, kicked off the football team for unsportsmanlike conduct, and his father, newly home from the war in Afghanistan, reckon with the injuries they’ve caused to others and themselves in this unflinching middle grade novel in verse about love and forgiveness.
Everybody knows Hazard Stokes has mad football skills. A defensive back, he’s never played dirty (no need for that when you’re as good as he is) so it’s a shock when he makes a bad hit the first game of the season and gets thrown off the field.
Now Coach won’t let him back on the team until a therapist gives the thumbs up. At first, Haz denies there’s a problem, but over time he starts to get it: When your dad’s at Walter Reed Medical Center getting fitted for a prosthetic limb to replace a leg lost in an IED blast (and won’t let you come visit him while he’s there), it might make you angry enough to hurt somebody.
On top of that, Haz discovers his dad’s dealing with wounds that go deeper than the loss of a leg. What happens when a soldier makes a split-second decision that haunts him long after the battle is over?
Through emails, texts, and family interviews, Haz slowly begins to understand how the body keeps score when bad things happen to people you love, and how the anger and confusion you feel can become the violence you commit. Both Hazard and his dad have to come to terms with the suffering they’ve caused other people—and themselves.
What goodreads readers are saying...
“Man, what a good book.”
“I picked it up off one of our public library’s new-reads shelves earlier this afternoon, and it was all I could do not to just sit down right then and there and read it before going back home.”
“Wasn’t expecting to have it be _such_ a powerful book about war and its myriad and horrific rippling effects.”
“Very much appreciated the look it gave me into the lives of military families.”
“There aren’t many books about families dealing with the fallout of a parent in the Gulf War and this is a great addition.”
“The book is a serious WOW and I will be sharing this cool book with other teachers and parents.”
“This was an intriguing, short read that might resonate with reluctant readers.”
“I first met Frances O’Roark Dowell’s writing with Dovey Coe… Her latest offering is very different but equally outstanding.”
“This book was short but amazing… and would make a great addition to any local library or school library. I love that it is written in verse, which made it a quick read and easy to pick up and set down when needed.”
“Have loved Dowell’s heartfelt books since the early 2000s when both “Where I’d Like to Be” and “Chicken Boy” made the Texas Bluebonnet Award nominee list for grades 3-6. “Hazard” is far more powerful than those two and is geared to a slightly older audience.”
“Read this book! I plan to purchase several copies for my middle school library. Hazard is one of those unique novels that will resonate with anyone who reads it.”
“Hard to put down.”
“Even reluctant readers will look at this shorter book.”
“… thought provoking, wholesome, where very delicate subjects are discussed in such a kind manner I would love my kids to read when older.”
“I know I have students who will love this novel.”
“Frances O’Roark Dowell does a great job highlighting the unseen scars of war in the soldier and their children. A great read for students of all ages.”
“This is not only a good book to hook reluctant teen readers, it serves well as one that might help kids who have some form of family trauma that affects their emotional well-being. Definitely a worthwhile choice for school and public libraries.”
“Y’all, Hazard was such a powerful and emotional read… such an honest look into one kid trying to navigate his family’s circumstances and better understand himself.”
“I think the format will appeal to today’s kids, especially reluctant readers. I often lament about the type of content being churned out for children’s literature, but this one is an exception. Recommend for middle school and high school.”
“Because it is a book that involves football and war and it is a quick read, I think it will appeal to many reluctant readers. I hope to share it with readers in my library.”
“I love the story’s format of text messages, emails, and interview transcripts. For younger audiences especially, these formats will feel relatable and current.”
“One of those quick reads that stays with you long after you close the book.”
“This book is written in a truly unique way. The book is told through emails from Hazard to his therapist. Some of the emails are his homework, some are responses to questions. Through these emails, the story unfolds. The chapters are short and easy to read but the story is captivating, making you want to read more.”
“I think this book will appeal to: reluctant readers, boys, football players, athletes, and students who have parents in the military or are just interested in the military.”
“I loved, loved, loved Hazard’s voice in this book — the author really nailed an angry, confused teenager.”
“An incredible story told through a very unique format.”
“Dowell does a masterful job of showing the hard choices and consequences of living on the line of brutal environments, both military and football. Her summation finds healing and hope.”
“…a fun and relatable read!”
“I stumbled upon the genre of novels written in verse a few years ago, and it has become one of my favorites. This author is no exception. She manages to get such feeling and character development into a relatively short book.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever read a book like this before, about how the military and deployment affect the children left behind. This would be a very powerful book for children with parents in the military.”
“In this day and age, it’s incredibly important to continue having conversations about mental health, especially with young men. As we work to deconstruct the toxic masculinity that so often infiltrates our society, this book is a step in the right direction.”