Cover image for If it doesn't kill you
If it doesn't kill you
Bechard, Margaret.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Viking, [1999]

Physical Description:
156 pages ; 22 cm
High school freshman Ben should be enjoying playing football, meeting girls, and going to parties, but he's too busy trying to cope with his father's moving out to live with another man.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR UG 2.9 5.0 32151.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Young Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

On Order



Ben just started high school -- and it's tough but exciting. The sophisticated new girl who has just moved into the house across the street thinks he's a cat murderer. At school Ben's freshman football team is the worst ever, but the coach thinks Ben is so good he just might skip JV and go straight to varsity. And then there's Dad. Everyone knows that Ben's dad was one of the best football players the school has ever had. But no one knows that Ben's dad has just left the family...for another man.

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 9^-12. Like his father, a star athlete whose glory days are still relived by the faculty, Ben starts high school as a first-rate football player. Under usual circumstances, Ben would be proud of the comparisons. But since his dad moved out months earlier to start a relationship with a man, Ben is angry and ashamed of his dad; and, even worse, he's confused by the ambiguous example his father has set for masculinity. A friendship with an eccentric female neighbor teaches Ben much about the difference between people who lie to manipulate and those who withhold the truth as they struggle to discover it themselves. With straightforward narration and appealing characters, Bechard leads the reader through Ben's single emotional step toward understanding. Although Ben's age makes him appealing to middle-school readers, a pivotal party scene that shows Ben's peers drinking heavily and smoking pot makes this book more appropriate for older YAs. --Roger Leslie

Publisher's Weekly Review

It comes as a shock to Ben and his mother when Ben's father, a former high school football star and still a legend in the town, announces he is gay and leaves home to move in with his boyfriend. Ben, a star fullback on the freshman team, is filled with rage and confusion. Meanwhile, members of the varsity team are beginning to include him in their clique. Can Ben really fit in with the tough-skinned jocks, who make fun of "fairies" and are as intent on scoring with girls as they are scoring points in a game? The answers are predictable. At his first "varsity" party, Ben comes to realize that his friends' macho reputations are partly based on lies. And right after the party, his feelings about his father and his father's lover, Keith, change dramatically, as Keith helps him out of a sticky situation. Although Bechard (My Mom Married the Principal) attempts to dispel myths about athletes and gay people, her own characterizations tend toward familiar types. Teens will relate to Ben's struggles with peer pressure, but may not find much help from the easy answers offered here. Ages 12-up. (June) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

Gr 6-10-When Ben's father moves out, saying, "This is the hardest thing that I've ever done," his son is not overly sympathetic. If his father wants to wreck the family and become a homosexual, that's his affair. Ben has his own problems, such as being on what may be the worst freshman football team in his school's history; his shaky driving skills that keep his mother clutching the dash; and Chynna, the very tantalizing new girl next door. She's a sassy spirit hell-bent on projecting the image of daring promiscuity; even if it's fake. Chynna befriends Ben and cajoles him into accompanying her on various escapades, including belly-button piercing and a boisterous football party. When she gets drunk at the party, Ben attempts to drive her home but gets stuck in a muddy field. With no help in sight, he resorts to calling his father. When his father's friend comes to their rescue, Ben is confronted with his own limited viewpoint. The irony of Ben's unconditional acceptance of Chynna's wild affectations and his rejection of his dad's honesty is subtle, plausible, and convincing. Bechard, has done a remarkable job of taking a sensitive issue and making it comfortable for a wide audience. The absence of melodrama and the healthy doses of humor make this a winning and realistic novel.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.