Reading/Interest Level: Intermediate, Young Adult
Author: Tim Green
Throughout his childhood in Cleveland, Landon Dorch has been tormented and bullied incessantly: for his bulky stature, for his garbled speech, and, most of all, for wearing cochlear implants. Unfortunately, the taunting persists in Bronxville, the Dorchs’ new town in the suburbs of New York. Tragically, the stars of Bronxville’s seventh grade football team become Landon’s biggest tormentors. His coaches are not much better, and he soon becomes the team’s unofficial waterboy. Fortunately for Landon, Brett Bell is considerate of him, and Brett’s uncle is NFL star Jonathan Wagner. Wagner quickly recognizes Landon’s potential as a football player and becomes his mentor and advocate. With Landon’s tenacity, his family’s support, Brett’s friendship, and Jonathan’s direction Landon discovers what it takes to no longer be left out.
Fans of football and of Tim Green’s other works are likely to enjoy reading Left Out. It vividly describes many football games and practices, both on the field and in Landon’s mind. Additionally, the characters at the forefront of the text are well developed and authentic, particularly Landon and his family members. Readers with siblings will relate well to Landon’s relationship with his sister, Genevieve. However, even a young audience will likely find the text artificial. Two seventh grade football players attending a party with half a dozen NFL players, including Eli Manning, is simply unrealistic. To top it off, Landon learns to become part of the team not by his own efforts but because an NFL player steps in and takes him under wing. Nevertheless, this text may be a valuable addition to libraries because it features a deaf protagonist with bilateral cochlear implants. Because there are not many books for children which present a cochlear implant user as a character, Left Out may diversify a school or classroom library and introduce readers to a new perspective.