Plunking Reggie Jackson by James W. Bennett

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He wanted to see himself as a victim, but it was getting harder all the time.

When Coley was a kid, his brother, Patrick, showed him how to "plunk" the life-size statue of Reggie Jackson that stands in the Burkes' backyard. If you nail the statue with a baseball in just the right place, it makes a loud gonging sound. It takes "mental toughness" -- a concept that Patrick mastered but that Coley is still trying to learn.

Now Patrick is dead, killed in a drunken boating accident, and Coley is struggling to live up to their father's idealized memory of him. Like Patrick, Coley is a star high school pitcher destined for the major leagues. But an ankle injury has sidelined him for most of the season. He's flunking English and could go ineligible for the play-offs. And he's started dating Bree Madison, a gorgeous sophomore whose mysterious past is causing Coley more problems every day.

When the pressures become more than Coley can handle, he and Bree run off to Florida. There, along the crystal waters of the Gulf of Mexico, Coley tries to get his mind right and understand what "mental toughness" really means.

The master of sports fiction for teenagers, James W. Bennett weaves a powerful story of memories, relationships, and high school baseball in this stunningly realistic novel.


About James W. Bennett

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James Bennett is the author of several acclaimed books for young adults, including "I Can Hear the Mourning Dove" and "Dakota Dream", both ALA Best Books for Young Adults. He lives in Illinois. To learn more about Mr. Bennett, visit him on the Web at:
Published February 1, 2001 by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 208 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Sports & Outdoors, Young Adult, Children's Books.

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Coley Burke is a star pitcher, but his senior year is anything but stellar.

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Publishers Weekly

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Uneven pacing and a perhaps too generous spattering of clich d passages about Coley's exploding hormones (e.g., ""Each time she stretched high to take down a book, he couldn't help staring at her shapely white thighs"") mars the narrative, and Coley's attitude toward his brother, girls in general...

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