Simply put, if you are like most of us, reading Resurrecting Lazarus, Texas will make you feel good.
Coming-of-age novels, I suspect, have universal appeal because they remind us of our own struggles to reach adulthood in one piece. We cannot help but see a bit of ourselves in well-crafted fictional characters trying to survive the emotions and temptations of adolescence long enough to successfully move on to the rest of their lives. We tend to root for those going through what we ourselves have already experienced.
Author Nathan Barber so seamlessly combines high school basketball and the best elements of coming-of-age novels here that even non-sports fans will find themselves heavily invested in this story about a naïve coach from Houston and his new girls basketball team. But the teens are not the only ones coming of age here; their coach, as well as their town, will do some growing up.
Coach Gabe Lewis, short on varsity coaching experience, sees tiny Lazarus, Texas, as his last chance to snag a head-coaching job for the coming basketball season. Little does he know, however, that the high school’s principal and its athletic director hire him mainly because he is a warm body they can get cheap – they could not possibly care less about the girls or their basketball season. In West Texas (as in the rest of the state), football is king, and no other sport comes all that close to it.
Coach Lewis and his girls will have to overcome numerous obstacles during the season, including the team’s own low expectations, the complete indifference of the town and fellow students, the aggressive hostility of other school athletes and coaches, and an emotional trauma that comes close to killing the whole community. It is time for the girls and their rookie coach to show what they are made of – by coming of age in a very public and inspirational manner. But can they pull it off?
Resurrecting Lazarus, Texas is one of those Young Adult novels that will inspire both its younger readers and their parents. As expected, the novel is filled with life-lessons, but those lessons are buried neatly inside an intriguing and inspirational plot – no heavy-handed lecturing. That approach should appeal to teen readers and parents, alike.