“XL7: The Story of Xavier Lysten” by Luther Guin
Football (American), fiction, character, Chiefs
July 15, 2014
4 of 5 stars (outstanding)
It isn’t often that a superstar athlete who has made some poor decisions in his life will be able to be a sympathetic figure, whether in a fictional story or in real life. However, this novel about a fictional football quarterback named Xavier Lysten manages to make the reader experience many highs and lows a football player can experience, both on and off the field.
Xavier is and isn’t a typical superstar athlete. On one hand, he takes in all the adulation he receives in high school while not only becoming the team’s quarterback but also dabbles with alcohol. On the other hand, he forgoes a national powerhouse college football program and commits to a local college that plays one level below, something not expected for highly recruited quarterbacks. The same give and take occurs during his college and professional career – he is talented enough to earn many chances, despite the fact that his drinking has cost him a suspension from his college team and even landed him in prison during his professional career.
While reading the story, told from Xavier’s point of view, the reader will experience every emotion that Xavier goes through, from the locker room to the field to his struggles with family members – including two marriages. Everything happens so fast in this story and he gets so many chances that the reader may have a difficult time keeping up with all the events in his life. However, the reader may at times forget that Xavier is a fictional character because it feels very real.
This includes the action on the field as well. The author writes these scenes with authority, whether it is during practice, in the locker room or during the games. Whether it is during his career in high school, college football at the University of Central Arkansas or his professional career with the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, the reader will be taken through the seasons with a feel of authenticity. The only aspect that feels truly fictional is how many times Xavier gets in trouble because of his drinking and yet when he is done with his punishment, he is welcomed back to the game with open arms.
This is a book that is recommended not only for football fans, but also for readers who enjoy stories of a second chance (or in Xavier’s case, third and fourth as well). It is a fast, enjoyable read that is a very good debut novel for Luther Guin.
I wish to thank Mr. Guin for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
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