Cracking the Bell (Paperback)

Cracking the Bell By Geoff Herbach Cover Image

Cracking the Bell (Paperback)


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Friday Night Lights meets Concussion in this powerful and important novel by Geoff Herbach, author of the Stupid Fast series, exploring the dangerous concussion crisis in football through the eyes of a high school team captain.

Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football.

While recovering from a concussion, Isaiah wonders what his life would look like without the game. All his friends are on the team, and Isaiah knows they can’t win without him. The scholarship offer from Cornell is only on the table if he keeps playing.

And without football, what would keep his family together? What would prevent him from sliding back into the habits that nearly destroyed him?

Isaiah must decide how much he’s willing to sacrifice for the sport that gave him everything, even if playing football threatens to take away his future.

Geoff Herbach is the author of Hooper and the award-winning Stupid Fast series, as well as Fat Boy vs. the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the Cybils Award for Best Young Adult Fiction and the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, and listed among the year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, and many state library associations. In the past, he produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State University, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife. You can find him online at

Product Details ISBN: 9780062453150
ISBN-10: 0062453157
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Publication Date: July 19th, 2022
Pages: 272
Language: English

“Along with tackling the deadly hazards of concussions, this novel offers a bulletin to readers facing life-altering changes, telling them that they might not have to go through them alone... Provocative entry centered on a sizzling topic.” — Kirkus Reviews

“Herbach’s story explodes on the page with Isaiah’s searching self-reflection. Football fans will love the grace and elegance with which the game is described, yet technical detail never overwhelms the story about a wily, articulate teen desperately trying to envision a future for himself by building a new game plan.” — ALA Booklist

“Herbach tackles the controversy surrounding the risks of one of America’s favorite pastimes... Older readers will find this book interesting, as they are kept in suspense as to the reasons behind characters’ actions. This vivid story is for fans of John Coy’s Crackback and Tommy Greenwald’s Game Changer.” — School Library Journal

Praise for HOOPER: “Lessons on small-town politics and what it means to be a good friend abound in this well-plotted work.” — ALA Booklist

“Herbach’s ability to expand the narrative from solid game play to confronting racial injustice is remarkable. No one here is perfect, and their failures make readers cringe yet root for success. Hoops and so much more.” — Kirkus Reviews

“There’s much to love in this sports tale. Fast-paced play-by-plays vividly depict the speed and beauty of the game. Adam’s backstory is heartrending and with immigrant mistrust and nonviolent protests in the national spotlight, this is a timely and realistic teen drama and swish—nothin’ but net.” — School Library Journal

“This sports/school/domestic drama checks all the boxes. What could be another boilerplate basketball novel benefits from a tight cast of well developed secondary characters who surpass their expected stereotypes.” — Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books

“Funny, gut-wrenching, and spilling over with heart, Hooper is an uplifting breath of joy, and gives us all cause to be hopeful. I loved it!” — Andrew Smith, Michael L. Printz Honor and New York Times Bestselling author of Winger and Grasshopper Jungle

“Fresh, funny, thoughtful, subversive, and totally absorbing. Book of the year!” — Robert Lipsyte, Margaret A. Edwards award-winning author of The Contender

Hooper is a slam dunk! A sports novel with incredible action and tons of heart. I challenge you not to fall in love with these terrific, flawed characters, and just try to put this one down once you start. Impossible.” — Bill Konigsberg, Award-Winning Author of Honestly Ben

“Raw, funny, and deeply honest, Geoff Herbach gifts us a story about the messiness of life and the importance of talking about it—ultimately showing us how to not only trudge through it, but to soar.”
Gae Polisner, author of In Sight of Stars and The Memory of Things

“Author Geoff Herbach has a remarkable ability to create characters who make us laugh and think, sometimes within the same sentence. Read Hooper and let your self be changed.”

John Coy, author of Gap Life

“Geoff Herbach captures rural-urban rivalries and the challenges of finding a home.” — Minneapolis Star Tribune