David Klass Home of the Braves

ISBN 13: 9780060531713

Home of the Braves

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9780060531713: Home of the Braves

That was the truth I came to in that long and frozen moment. This was my life. Not the life of any of the people around me, clamoring for blood, but mine. I had to make the decision, and I had to make it now, or it would be made for me.

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About the Author:

David Klass is the author of six other young adult novels, including the ALA Notable books Wrestling with HonorM and California Blue. He has also written a number of screenplays, including Kiss the Girls and Desperate Measures. This is his first book with HarperCollins.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Home of the Braves
1The first word of the arrival of the Phenom blew into our school on a Tuesday with an October rainstorm.Soccer practice ended just as the downpour started, and the twenty members of our team sprinted off the field with thunder crashing above us, and sharp harpoons of lightning forking out across the suddenly dark autumn sky. The rain went from a few isolated drops to a cold thudding cascade in about five seconds flat, and by the time we made it to the school and squeezed in through the basement entrance, in our dripping uniforms and muddy shoes, we were as wet as a soccer team can be.I spotted Kristine in the basement hallway, near the band room, trying to not look like she was waiting for me. I tried to not look like I saw her not looking at me. I lagged behind the team and then, as they hurried noisily into the locker room for hot showers and dry towels, I made a detour toward her.Kris and I lived across the street from each other, and I'd been friends with her ever since I could walk. But in the last six months our friendship had suddenly gotten very weird, and I wasn't sure whether it was me or her. Lately, when Italked to her, I couldn't figure out whether she was flirting with me or if I was reading it into everything she said. Some days I was certain she wanted me to ask her out on a date. Other days I was equally sure she considered me just an old pal from the same block who she could joke around with. The only thing I was clear about was that my old neighbor who I used to play tag with and chase around our backyards with a water pistol had grown up into a fun and very pretty girl with long sandy brown hair and sparkling hazel eyes."Hey, K," I said."You're a mess," Kris said back. Now, that's not normally a flattering comment, but she said it with a smile."Thanks," I said. "I don't know if you noticed, but there's a monsoon going on outside.""Don't drip on me, Joe.""It's okay," I told her. "It's not sweat or anything. It's just good, clean rain.""I don't want to get wet with just good, clean rain. Keep away. You're flooding the hallway."There was, in fact, a small puddle forming around my feet. I stepped back. "What's up?" I asked her."What do you mean what's up?""Why were you here waiting for me?""What makes you think I was waiting for you?" Kris asked. "Band practice just ended.""And you're standing outside the guys' locker room.""Coincidence," she said. "This happens to be the way Iwalk from the band room to my locker. But since I'm here and you're here, I'll give you a hot tip, Mr. Soccer Team Captain. Unless you've already heard.""Heard what?""Oh, so you haven't heard?" She sounded genuinely amused."Kris, for the second time, heard what?" I was getting exasperated."Congratulations," she said. "Your soccer team just got a whole lot better."It was very strange, but even when she seemed to be saying something very directly, I couldn't understand her at all. "What are you talking about?" I asked."In fact," she said, "I think you guys might actually have a chance in the league play-offs.""We've always had a chance.""No, I saw you play on Sunday." She didn't need to tell me this. I had spotted Kris and some of her friends in the stands. I had been surprised and glad to see her there, and I wondered at the time if she had come to watch a soccer game in general, or me in particular. "No offense," she said, "but you guys looked pretty awful. In fact, you were awful because you had no offense.""We had a bad game," I muttered."Joe, it's not your fault. You played great, but the rest of your team is a disaster."I didn't say anything, because I didn't want to agree withher, but I couldn't deny it. Being the captain and best player on a barely mediocre team is no fun."But now you have a chance of making the league play-offs," Kris said. "If not the state play-offs. If not the world play-offs. This is your lucky day, Joe. By the way, are there world play-offs in high school soccer?"I stepped closer to her. "If you don't tell me what you're talking about by the count of three, I'm gonna shake my wet hair all over you.""You wouldn't dare.""One," I said."And this is the thanks I get for waiting outside your stupid locker room to give you a hot tip? That's it. I'm out of here."I blocked her way. "Two," I said."Joe, you wouldn't dare.""I'm warming up my neck muscles," I told her. "I hope that blouse dries quickly."I have a big mop of curly black hair and it holds a lot of water. I think she saw that I was really about to shake it out all over her. "Okay," she said. "I guess you haven't heard about the new kid.""What new kid?""The new kid who just transferred to our school.""No. But so what? Kids leave. Kids come.""Yeah, but they don't usually come from Brazil to New Jersey."I felt my pulse quicken. "For your information, not all kids from Brazil play soccer," I told her."For your information, this one does," she said. "Or at least that's what I heard Mrs. Simmons telling Mr. Hart."Mrs. Simmons is our head guidance counselor. Among her other duties, she helps new students get adjusted. It made sense that she might know something about some new transfer student. Mr. Hart is our athletic director. If Mrs. Simmons found out about a talented new athlete, it made sense that she would tell Mr. Hart. But, of course, I was still playing it cool. "For your information, not all students from Brazil, even if they play a little soccer, are any good," I told her."True," she said. And she paused. Again, that wicked smile. "And he doesn't look like a jock. He's not real muscular ... and he's not as big as you.""You've seen this guy?""He's in my calculus class. His name's Silva. Antonio Silva. He's real cute. Great hair. Even better eyes. He speaks real good English." She paused. It was a long pause. Her sparkling hazel eyes laughed at me. "And I hear he played for Brazil," she finally said."Don't you mean he played in Brazil?""No," she said, "for Brazil. I hear he was on the Brazilian national youth team or something. In fact, I think he was one of their leading scorers."I just stood there. The blood stopped running through my veins, which is understandable because my heart stoppedbeating, and I believe my lungs also stopped pumping air. Everything just froze.I guess Kris saw that her news had turned me into a statue, incapable of responding, so she kept talking. "Isn't Brazil the best soccer country in the world?" she asked. "I mean, don't they keep winning the World Cup, if that's what it's called? And he was one of the best young players in the whole country. I think he was a striker. Isn't that what they call the people who stay in front and score all the goals? Except on your team, where the strikers don't score any goals. Anyway, now he's at our school. So don't you think, Mr. Soccer Captain of a mediocre team with no offense, that you might want to check him out ..."But Kris never got to finish what she was saying, because I had disappeared down the hallway to find Antonio Silva.Copyright © 2002 by David Klass

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