Kansas Reads: Our Boys

This year’s Kansas Reads! selection was a home-state favorite, Our Boys: A Perfect Season on the Plains with the Smith Center Redmen by Joe Drape. It’s the first sports book chosen for the state wide reading project and it was a fine choice because this book isn’t really about sports.

The Smith Center Redmen hold the high school record for consecutive wins, 54 straight games which includes five consecutive championships. Sports journalist Joe Drape followed the team through their perfect 2008 season and their fifth championship. Readers who are not football fans should not fear being immersed in complex game plays and strategies or unusual sports lingo.

Drape’s memoir of a season is not about the game, it’s about the players and how they play the game. The readers at Basehor Community Library, Bonner Springs City Library, and Tonganoxie Public Library saw this immediately and couldn’t wait to talk about it, especially the non-sports fans.

Readers honed in on the Smith Center community’s dedication to raising a team of responsible, caring, intelligent members of society. They talked about the benefits and drawbacks of small town life in an isolated area of the state. They also talked about the dedication to students possessed by professional educators. Finally, readers discussed the definition of “Midwestern values” and concluded they weren’t really all that different from values held all over the country.

As one participant stated, “This book isn’t about preparing to win in life. It’s about preparing to face losses with dignity, respect, and strength.”

Book groups looking for a nonfiction title that will appeal to men and readers of inspirational fiction/nonfiction will find Our Boys a fine choice. However, make an effort to read the trade paperback edition as it provides a coda that will also prompt much conversation.

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About the Author:

Kaite Mediatore Stover refuses to give up her day job as director of readers' services for The Kansas City Public Library to read tarot cards professionally or be the merch girl/roadie for her husband's numerous bands. Follow her on Twitter at @MarianLiberryan.

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