book cover of Fighting in the Shade
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Fighting in the Shade

A novel by

In 1964, seventeen-year-old Billy Dyer is a newcomer to Oleander, a Gulf Coast Florida town whose old guard define football as the ancient Spartans did their Agoge. It is a mode of brutal tutelage that forges the hearts and minds of the town's elite youth for a future of power. Billy's parents are recently divorced and he lives in a bad neighborhood with his secretive, alcoholic father. Billy discovers in the course of the story that his attorney father has been forced by blackmail to serve Blake Rainey, the town's most powerful and wealthy citizen, in a clandestine land-acquisition scheme that will raze the town's black section.

Through the brutal and fiery days of summer practice, Billy fights for a starting spot on the team, the Spartans. He makes the team, but in a horrific hazing scene far from the town, he rebels and in the process badly injures his rival for the flanker position, Sim Sizemore, the son of Blake Rainey's partner. The events that follow force Billy into exile from football, then later back into the game when powerful men realize that the Spartans cannot win without him. Blake Rainey offers Billy a Faustian bargain, and the boy must accept or reject the deal, while also accepting the consequences of this decision.

Genre: Mystery

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