**I received a free copy of this novel from Cedar Fort Publishing & Media in exchange for a review. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
I was excited to read a sports book! I’ve been told time and time again by different sites, professors, articles, etc, that teachers need more sports books for boys to relate to. So, although I don’t really like most sports movies or books, I decided to try it out.
Sterling Bridge by Chad Robert Parker is a historical fiction that is very reminiscent of Remember the Titans. It takes place in the 1920s in Tooelee, Utah. Tooelee (too-el-ah) is still a very small town today–it began as a mining town for all the copper and silver mines in the mountains in the west of Salt Lake Valley. In the 1920s, the last of the original Mormon pioneers were beginning to die off, but their descendants still harbored a distrust and prejudice against non-Mormons (I can’t really blame them due to how the early Mormons were treated), but many non-Mormons and immigrants began settling in Utah to work int he mines. Part of the 7th grade history Utah Studies curriculum is to teach students about the impact of the immigrants and different cultures that settled Utah. The year I taught it, I had my students do a big multi-cultural heritage project and they loved learning more about their ancestors and their cultural heritage.
In this book, Tooelee is a divided town–Old Town and New Town…divided between original pioneer settlers and the migrants/immigrants. The narrator is 14 year old Joe Lacey. He meets Sterling Harris (a real man), a Mormon from another Utah city who is a football coach. Harris brings together both Old Town and New Town, immigrant and pioneer descendant, Mormon and non-Mormon into a rag-tag team. He creates unity with the boys and brings unity to the town.
I was honestly a little disappointed with this book. This was Parker’s first novel published, so I have to give him some lax, but I honestly didn’t think it was well-written. It is a little confusing to follow the events. Parker has this whole world perfectly set up in his mind and he knows the history so well, but narrating it to us was a little difficult. I also realize that Parker is a Mormon author and Cedar Fort’s target audience is the Mormon community, but I think the book would have done better with less detail and plot of the Mormon church. I mean, difference of religion is a big topic, but the book could relate to other people like Remember the Titansdid by focusing on the fact of different cultures coming together to be stronger.
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