The Silent Striker
Publisher: Hope Road
Marcus lives and breathes football. It seems he might even have the makings of a professional player. However, Marcus' life is about to change.
For one thing, Marcus finds that he has acquired a girlfriend. Then there's the fact that he's getting into trouble in school. Finally, he discovers that he is losing his hearing.
This is neither a book 'about' deafness or disability, nor is it just another stock football story. Kalu deftly blends these themes together as part of a richly convincing backdrop of inner city life, a special measures school, and a family with its own set of problems, preoccupations and quirks.
There are uncomfortable reminders that racism hasn't yet been fully 'kicked out' of grassroots football, as well as a constructive message about how to confront the unacceptable and bigoted 'banter'.
Meanwhile, where deafness is concerned, the overriding message is both positive and powerful. Marcus' reaction to the diagnosis is typically teenage (indeed human). It's sensitively handled, and we understand his conflicting feelings on trying out hearing aids.
Ultimately, however, Marcus comes to realise that the greatest obstacle he faces is his own attitude.
An uplifting, accessible and very 'real' read.