Felix’s last season of high school football is all that matters. When he’s out on the field, he can forget about his older brother who never came back from the war, his mother who disappeared inside her own mind after losing her oldest son, and the mining town that seems to be crumbling around him. If he can just lead the Muckers team to victory, he knows everything will be all right.
But even as the Muckers win more games, it’s hard to ignore everything that’s going wrong in his small Texas town. The threat of communism has everyone on edge, and race relations in the multiethnic immigrant community are near a boiling point. One of his best friends is heading off to the Korean War to prove himself, and the town will never accept the fact that Felix is white and the only girl he wants to kiss is Mexican.
Muckers is a strong piece of young adult historical fiction that manages to touch on many topics without seeming disjointed. The frame of a local newspaper helps to add some extra historical content without forcing it into the dialogue.
The novel is strongest when it gets inside Felix’s head off the football field, when he’s forced to think about not only his painful past, but his future. His desire to honor his parents and brother is strong, but what makes him a truly compelling protagonist is his thirst to prove his worth to himself, and his determination to avoid a life in the mines.
Muckers will entertain anyone interested in 1950s America, but it will especially capture the attention of football fans and anyone who’s ever felt hometown pride.