Broken Field by Jeff Hull
Skyhorse/Arcade Publishing: 10/2/18
eBook review copy; 360 pages
Broken Field by Jeff Hull is a very highly recommended look
through the eyes of a teen girl and the coach of a high school football
hazing incident in a small Montana town.
The Dumont Wolfpack is looking at a winning season. Tom Warner is the
coach who is leading the team to the playoffs. After the last win, Tom
gives his assistant coach permission to make the five hour drive home
with his wife. He then sits up front in the bus, near the driver, and
doses during the drive home. Obviously he didn't know that while he was
dozing an underclassman was taped to a luggage rack, striped, and
During a rest stop, cheerleaders got on the bus and captured the
disturbing hazing on the school's yearbook camera. When they get home, a
mother of one of the cheerleaders finds the pictures and calls Tom.
Sixteen-year-old Josie Frehse is a teen who is outgoing and friendly to
everyone. She tries to meet the expectations of her family and the
community. She is the sister of the football team’s star runner and
girlfriend of the
quarterback, Matt, one of the ringleaders of the hazing. Josie and Matt
are at the top of the high school social
hierarchy, but Josie is beginning to question what she wants. Matt is
moody, has a sense of entitlement from sports, and is self-important,
and Josie is not sure she actually wants to stay with him after high
Tom and the school principal question the players involved and Tom
offers up his resignation as football coach. When word of the incident
gets out, the town is polarized. Is this a case of "boys will be boys"
and a "tradition" that almost all the male members of town have gone
through or is this abuse? Then the incident attracts the attention of
the media and cannot be ignored. The story is told through the
point-of-view of Tom and Josie.
Broken Field is beautifully written novel and captured my
attention immediately. Hull has crafted his well-developed his
characters with such empathy and understanding that you will care about
these people and have compassion for them. There are heartbreaking
moments, actions that angered and polarized my feelings, and other
actions that left me shaking my head. In the end I felt like I knew this
town, for better or worse, and these people.
The ending was not quite what I expected after the adept, skillful,
quiet, and psychological insight found in the rest of the novel, but
that doesn't mean it was bad. Upon reflection, sending the novel in that
direction was an astute choice. This is truly a memorable novel that
touches on idolizing sports, racism, bullying, and violence against
women. Hull has an intuitiveness for character development that made it
a compelling, engrossing novel that held my attention throughout.
(There are, obviously, several sports scenes described in the novel that
non-sports fans can skim.)
My review copy was courtesy of Skyhorse/Arcade Publishing.
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