Friday, April 24, 2009

Perpetual Check by Rich Wallace

Zeke Mansfield is a senior who dominated his school's chess team for three years. His brother Randy is the freshman who took Zeke's place at the top. At first glance, the brothers couldn't be more different. Zeke's an athlete who brings his competitive spirit with him to the chess board. Randy quit sports in first grade and never looked back. When both brothers are selected to compete in a regional chess tournament, it's time for them to see which Mansfield is really the better player.
Zeke starts out as a truly unlikable character. He's always been told he's great at sports, and he's let the compliments go to his head. He's got an excuse for every loss, and nothing is ever his fault. Once we meet the boys' father, however, we catch a glimpse of why Zeke has come to think this way. Mr. Mansfield is all about being the best, and he's taught his older son to think the same way he does. Randy, on the other hand, is they guy everyone wants to be friends with. He takes a genuine interest in the people he talks to, and it tends to draw people to him.
During the weekend of the chess tournament, Zeke is given the unique opportunity of watching both Randy and his father. For the first time, he begins to see the differences between himself and his brother, and he's given the chance to decide which man he'd rather be.
I enjoyed this book, but I didn't think it was quite as strong as it could have been. For all the family changes and big life decisions that were made, there didn't seem to be very much build-up. The book is only 112 pages long, and I think it would have been worth the little extra length to add in a bit more character development. But overall, it was an enjoyable read.