Head Fake

Mikey makes everything a joke, even the clinical depression he’s struggled with for years. After a run of failed jobs, he becomes the unlikely basketball coach at a high school for high-risk offenders who are experiencing mental illness. The position becomes suddenly available after the team tried to strangle their last coach.

Every instinct tells Mikey to get as far away from this school as possible. Coaching these kids, who have been arrested for who-knows-what, would be difficult for a normie. For Mikey, it could cause another breakdown and force him right back to living on the street. But he knows that if he has any chance to make his twenty-sixth birthday, he needs to keep this job, even if the school board wants him fired, and the students would rather fight each other than play ball.

This poignant, hilarious, and sometimes uncomfortable novel proves that even the most damaged of us can emerge victorious.

“This debut novel sees an erstwhile homeless man with a history of depression become the basketball coach at a school for mentally ill juvenile offenders…The author’s exploration of mental illness is fearless and without artifice, portraying not only the debilitating effects on those afflicted, but also the trepidation, helplessness, anger, neglect, scorn, and occasional love returned to them by family and strangers. Mikey is an engaging protagonist, and all of his charges emerge as distinct characters. Even stock figures like Mikey’s dad have depth beyond their narrative functions. Throughout, Gordon narrates events in clear, accomplished prose that captures the voice and heart of each player. Readers will find themselves caught up in the journey, cheering for Mikey and his team…An absorbing, uplifting tale of finding light and self-worth in adversity’s darkest depths.”

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Kirkus (starred review)

“Head Fake is an inspiring addition to the literature of sport, the literature of long odds and underdogs, the literature of mental illness, the literature of overbearing fathers. Scott Gordon writes with profound candor, wit, and empathy about people on the edge, people who could just really use a few wins.”

National Book Award Finalist, winner of the Terry Southern Prize for Humor, author of

The Throwback Special

Chris Bachelder

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