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Genre - Contemporary Fiction / YA
Rating - PG
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The Time Of My Life is a book with many themes, but at the heart of the novel is the idea that Derious Cooper, called Coop, is learning some valuable life lessons. An African American teenager on the fringes of gang activity, Coop is a talented runner. By chance, he has the opportunity to be coached by a wealthy white doctor named Evan Jones, who happens to be a former Olympic hopeful who has been injured and can no longer run. Evan’s track program is built on following rules and building character.
On page 99, the reader finds Coop, now the team captain, in need of a character building lesson. He has become very sure of his own abilities and is criticizing his team members for small mistakes. His superior attitude, Evan believes, needs to be addressed. He arranges for his brother in law, a regional champion at the 800M run, to race Coop.
Page 99 shares Coop’s view of what happens. The results of the race and the conversation that he has with Evan following the race is a pivotal scene in the novel. What Coop takes away from that conversation will, in part, shape the rest of the season, as well as how he views himself and his relationship with his coach. The novel is, at least on some level., a coming of age story for Coop. It also deals with issues of tolerance and making positive changes and meeting challenges with character.
The reader will have to read page 98 and to the end of the chapter to get the full meaning of the segment. The Time Of My Life is told in four voices, that of Coop, Evan, Evan’s wife Casey and Skip O’Brien, who helps Evan coach the team. The bulk of the story is told from Coop’s and Evan’s point of view.
Page 99 offers a glimpse into Coop’s perspective of his life after meeting Evan. The rest of the novel deals with the relationship between the runner and his coach and the past events that tie them together and affect their future.