Margaret Peterson Haddix’s novels are always fast-paced with original, thought-provoking plots. In Game Changer, she tackles an alternate reality where sports and academics are reversed in our society.
KT Sutton is an 8th grade softball champion. Her whole life revolves around her amazing talent as a softball pitcher, and her goals are to win a college scholarship and play in the Olympics. Her shoulder has been bothering her, but KT tries to play through the pain. One day during a championship game, KT blacks out. When she wakes up, she’s back in her bedroom, and the world is a different place.
In this strange new world, school is all about physical fitness, with each class one series of boring drills after another: stretching, running, throwing, etc. For fun, the kids participate in academic competitions, and those seem to be the only things that kids, parents, and the school are truly interested in. In this new world, athletic KT is an outcast, and her little brother, Max, is the star of his 6th grade Mathletics team and the focus of all of her parents’ attention. Max isn’t any happier about this situation than KT is. When KT discovers that Max also remembers the “real” world, the two team up to try to find a way back.
Alternate reality always makes for an interesting story, and there is plenty of suspense here as KT and Max struggle to figure out what happened and how they can reverse it. Haddix’s lessons – about sports and academics, bullying, and the importance of valuing diversity – are rather obvious here, though maybe less so for younger readers. It is not one of her best books, but overall, it is a fun and fast-paced story that will especially appeal to middle-school age readers.
272 pages, Simon & Schuster
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