Jock lives a seemingly idyllic life; it’s the summer between eighth and ninth grade and he spends his days working an admittedly easy job on his grandfather’s golf course. He does a little greens keeping, helps his Grampus work on adding holes (the course only has 13), and mans the front counter when his older sister Meredith ditches work to be with her boyfriend.

All is not peaceful in paradise, however. There’s his younger brother Egon, for one thing. He’s bigger than Jock, and as anti-social a personality as you’ll find. Egon would be an even bigger headache if it weren’t for the fact that he’s not the sharpest knife in the drawer. Then there are the Noblett brothers, who have a major grudge against Egon, and by extension, Jock; dodging them takes some of the fun of summer away. And finally, there are Jock’s parents, Leonard and Peach—while Grampus is a little eccentric for an ex-Marine, Jock’s ex-hippy dad and mom are downright weird. Chris Lynch’s hilarious new novel, The Big Game of Everything, stirs all these ingredients into a perfect storm of trouble for Jock.

Trouble arrives one day in the form of two of Grampus’ ex-Marine buddies. They come to play a round of golf, but they leave with Egon, or at least they capture his greedy heart. Egon is assigned to caddy the two men, and by the time he returns, he has reached new levels of obsequiousness with the big tippers, including sporting a huge gold ring one has given to him. Then, when his Grammus arrives with a new boyfriend, things get even crazier, and Jock wonders if his family will ever be the same again—and if that’s necessarily a bad thing.

Lynch is an award-winning author who has written some serious novels, but this one takes a serious concept and stands it on its ear. The Big Game of Everything is a book full of laugh-out-loud humor, with a cast of crazy but believable characters. At its center, young readers will find an entertaining life lesson about discovering what really matters.

James Neal Webb once hit himself with his own golf ball.

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