By Joshua Cohen
Readers will plow through this narrative like an offensive lineman on steroids, and in this novel, there is plenty of steroid use going on. Yet, that is not the thrust of the story. Kurt, a new player for Oregrove High School’s Knights, is glad to have a fresh start at a new school, having come to OHS as an orphan with a disturbing history. Cursed with a hellacious stutter, Kurt isn’t likely to share that story; instead, he plans to make the most of his new life, pumping iron not only to increase his chances at a scholarship, but also to insulate himself from pain, both inside and out. When his fate intertwines with Danny, an underclassman gymnast with mad skills, the two are unlikely friends. But a violent crime ties them both together, and they must decide if they will risk everything to speak out—including their lives. The story rockets along with a tension that is palpable, conflicts that will rip the reader apart from the inside out, and keep them awake at night. Even though some of the bad-guys seem to be a bit over-the-top in the sheer evil of their actions, I have no doubt in the wake of current news about bullying all over the country, that evil villains like these really exist. This novel is not for the faint of heart, and those offended by profanity and violence need not crack the pages—this is a story that could not be told without both. With an insight into human nature that psychologists would envy for its raw examination of courage and cowardice, I for one, find Leverage to be one of the finest, most well-written novels I have ever read.