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Wallace, Rich 1957-

Wallace, Rich 1957-

Personal

Born January 29, 1957, in Hackensack, NJ; married (divorced, 1996); married, 2000; children: two sons. Education: Montclair State College (now University), B.A., 1980.

Addresses

Home—Honesdale, PA.

Career

Writer. Herald News, Passaic, NJ, editorial assistant, 1978-79; sports reporter, 1979-82; Daily Advance, Dover, NJ, sports editor, 1982-84, news editor, 1984-85; Trenton Times, Trenton, NJ, copy editor, 1985-86, assistant city editor, 1986-87; Highlights for Children magazine, copy editor, 1988-90, assistant editor, 1990-92, coordinating editor, 1992-98, senior editor, beginning 1998.

Awards, Honors

Best Books for Young Adults selection, American Library Association (ALA), and Quick Pick for Reluctant Young-Adult Readers selection, ALA, both 1997, both for Wrestling Sturbridge; Best Books for Young Adults selection, ALA, Quick Pick for Reluctant Young-Adult Readers selection, ALA, and Books for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, all 2001, all for Playing without the Ball; Books for the Teen Age selection, 2004, for Restless; Best Books for Young Adults selection, ALA, 2008, for One Good Punch.

Writings

Wrestling Sturbridge, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.

Shots on Goal, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.

Playing without the Ball: A Novel in Four Quarters, Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.

Losing Is Not an Option (short stories), Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

Restless: A Ghost's Story, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

One Good Punch, Knopf (New York, NY), 2007.

Dishes, Viking (New York, NY), 2008.

Perpetual Check, Knopf (New York, NY), 2009.

Contributor to anthologies, including Lost and Found: Award-winning Authors Sharing Real-life Experiences through Fiction, edited by M. Jerry Weiss and Helen S. Weiss, 2000; On the Edge: Stories at the Brink, edited by Lois Duncan, 2000; One Hot Second: Stories about Desire, edited by Cathy Young, 2002; Guys Write for Guys Read, edited by Jon Scieszka, 2005; and Dreams and Visions: Fourteen Flights of Fantasy, edited by M. Jerry Weiss and Helen S. Weiss, 2006. Contributor to periodicals, including Alan Review, Highlights, Track and Field News, and Runner's World.

"WINNING SEASON" SERIES

The Roar of the Crowd, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Technical Foul, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Fast Company, Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Double Fake, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Emergency Quarterback, Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Southpaw, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Dunk under Pressure, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Takedown, Viking (New York, NY), 2006.

Curveball, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

Second-string Center, Viking (New York, NY), 2007.

Adaptations

Wrestling Sturbridge was adapted as an audiobook, Recorded Books, 1996; Shots on Goal was adapted as an audiobook, Recorded Books, 1998.

Sidelights

In his novels Wrestling Sturbridge Shots on Goal, and One Good Punch, young-adult author Rich Wallace has used "the metaphors of sports to explore universal themes of emerging adulthood and self-definition," according to Horn Book reviewer Maeve Visser Knoth. "I look for the universal in the very specific—the moment of self examination in the seconds before an athletic event, the painful truth in being rejected by a love interest, the sobering idea that a kid might be more mature than one of his parents," the author stated in the St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers. "Young guys tend to keep these little discoveries to themselves. I've never been particularly verbal, but I do hope to share a few things I've learned by writing about them in my novels."

Wallace was born January 29, 1957, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Raised by his college-educated parents along with six brothers and sisters, he began writing as a first grader. Academics were not Wallace's strong suit, however; he found school to be dull, and he did not read much beyond what was required for his classes from sixth grade until after college. As a teenager, he was primarily interested in sports, especially track and cross country.

Things changed in high school, and Wallace began writing extensively, keeping a diary in which he poured out his emotions. He also gained valuable experience by working on his school's newspaper. Wallace's evolution as a writer continued at New Jersey's Montclair State College. He took creative writing classes, including one that required him to pen a novel, one chapter per week. He also interned at the Passaic Herald-News, where he was later offered a paid writing and reporting position. Sports once again captured the majority of Wallace's attention, though. In fact, Wallace left college just two credits short of a degree. A couple of years later, he returned and completed the two physical education courses he needed to graduate.

After graduating from Montclair State in 1980 with a B.A. degree, Wallace began reworking the novel that he had started in his creative writing class. He eventually finished the work and sent it to publishers, but every company rejected the work. Patricia Gauch, an editor at Philomel, shared some positive comments from the in-house staff, however, including several from Tracy Gates. Gates would later play a pivotal role in the publication of Wrestling Sturbridge.

Over the next eight years, Wallace continued his newspaper career, working variously as a sports reporter, news editor, and assistant city editor at a variety of New Jersey newspapers. He also married and became a father to two boys. In 1988, he began working for Highlights for Children as a copy editor. Today, he is a senior editor at the magazine, and publishing well-written stories has become Wallace's passion.

Wallace continued his own writing efforts during this period. In 1996, after working on a number of novels that "showed promise but didn't go anywhere," as he told Publishers Weekly contributor Heather Vogel Frederick, Wallace finally had a story that was different.

"This one jelled right from the beginning," he continued. "I knew where it was going." Wallace sent the manuscript to Gates, who years earlier had complimented his first, failed effort. Gates, now an editor at Knopf, suggested changes to the new work, including a few additional scenes and chapters that fleshed out the story. "Wrestling Sturbridge wouldn't be what it is without Tracy, not by a long shot," the author remarked to Frederick.

Wrestling Sturbridge is the story of Ben, a high school senior and varsity wrestler who tires of being practice fodder for Al, his teammate and close friend. Faced with a bleak future in a dead-end town, Ben decides to challenge for Al's spot on the squad, despite the fact that Al is a top contender for the state title. Ben also begins a romance with the intelligent, tough-minded Kim, who believes in Ben more than he believes in himself. But "Wallace isn't writing a sports fairy story," a Publishers Weekly contributor declared. Instead, Wrestling Sturbridge offers a "strong portrait of a smothering small town," Horn Book reviewer Maeve Visser Knoth remarked, "and the hopelessness that it engenders in an adolescent." "Anyone even remotely curious about small-town America need look no further than this exemplary first novel," stated a Publishers Weekly critic.

Reviewers also praised the author's narrative voice. Wallace, "like Ben, whose voice is so strong and clear here," wrote Debbie Carton in Booklist, "weighs his words carefully, making every one count." Ben "tells the story in a spare way appropriate to his undemonstrative, nonverbal nature," a Kirkus Reviews critic added, "recording fast and furious wrestling action, the steady burn of his own anger and frustration, and brief but telling glimpses of the people around him." Wrestling Sturbridge, Donelson concluded, "is about young people who care about life and about keeping promises they've made to themselves and others. It is a rare sports story because there is no super-hero and no villain."

The setting for Shots on Goal remains in Sturbridge but moves to the soccer field. A critic in Kirkus Reviews declared that "Wallace flattens the sophomore jinx in this taut, present-tense tale of an underdog high-school soccer team battling internal dissension." The instigators of this internal dissension are Barry "Bones" Austin and his best friend, Joey. Bones realizes that he is stuck in "second place," not only on the soccer field, where he is the team's second-best player (after Joey), but also at home, where his older brother, Tommy, is the favored son of their parents.

Tension arises when Bones' object of desire, Shannon, begins dating Joey. Bones also grows resentful of Joey's increasingly selfish play on the field. As the soccer season rolls on, "a face-off between the two teens" occurs, as Booklist critic Frances Bradburn stated, the critic adding that each boy is "striving to find his own identity without the other, in spite of the other." The face-off finally comes to an end after "the two friends square off in a fight that makes both aware how important their soccer team and their friendship are," according to Donelson.

Like Wrestling Sturbridge, Shots on Goal earned praise for its fully developed characters and exciting action. Dina Sherman, writing in School Library Journal, felt that the "situations and emotions that Bones experiences are all very real, and young people will relate to them." A critic for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books added that "the soccer matches are fast, the interaction with girls unromantically realistic, and the voice is engaging, as Bones tells his story as a rueful eyewitness account."

In Playing without the Ball: A Novel in Four Quarters Wallace again invites readers to enter the world of high school sports in Sturbridge. The main character is Jay, a seventeen-year-old basketball player who supports himself by working part-time in a bar, while also living by himself above the bar. After Jay is cut from his high school team, he joins a YMCA squad that offers him the competitive outlet he needs. Jay also develops a relationship with Spit, the female lead singer for a punk band that often performs at the bar. According to School Library Journal contributor Jack Forman, Playing without the Ball "has a lot to say about friendship, independence, and self-realization." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Wallace's well-written game sequences, adding, "with equal skill, the author limns the resilient Jay and his realistically awkward and tentative forays into romance."

Wallace turned to the short-story form in Losing Is Not an Option. The nine interconnected tales focus on Ron, a student-athlete growing up in a small, working-class Pennsylvania town. Many of the stories "are filled with subtlety and ambiguity, offering snapshots of the protagonist at various points of his teenage life," wrote Todd Morning in School Library Journal. In "Night Game," for example, an adolescent Ron realizes that his best friend has left him behind, and in "I Voted for Mary Ann," Ron must cope with the death of his beloved grandfather. In the title story, the boy, now a high school senior, competes for the state track championship. Although a Publishers Weekly critic noted that not all of the tales are equally successful, "together they powerfully render an athlete's coming of age." According to Booklist contributor Michael Cart, the best stories in the collection "have a wonderful emotional integrity and remind readers that Wallace is a writer to watch."

A seventeen-year-old athlete encounters a supernatural being in Restless: A Ghost's Story. While running through a graveyard late one night, Herbie senses that an unusual presence is following him. Intrigued, he returns again and again to the cemetery and eventually meets the spirit of a young man named Eamon. Herbie later believes that he has also contacted the ghost of his older brother, Frank, who died ten years earlier and serves as the book's narrator. According to Donna M. Knott in School Library Journal, Herbie, Eamon, and Frank "are intertwined in a search for an understanding of one another's experiences in life and in death and how to move on from them." In Restless, Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick observed, Wallace "raises interesting questions about an afterlife."

In his short novel One Good Punch, Wallace introduces Michael Kerrigan, a high school senior who is gunning for a track scholarship. A straight arrow, Michael also takes a part-time job as an editorial assistant, writing obituaries for the Scranton Observer. During a drug sweep of his school, however, police discover marijuana stashed in Michael's locker, and the senior is faced with expulsion. Michael must decide if he should reveal the identity of the friend who hid the drugs in his locker, or accept the punishment, which could end his dream of attending college. "Wallace's sobering novel is as quick and tight as a taut jab and packs about as much heft," Ian Chipman wrote in Booklist, and Rohrlick praised the author's manner "of conveying the experience and importance of sports in a teenage boy's life."

A restless nineteen year old tries to connect with his absentee father in Dishes, a departure of sorts for Wallace. Set in Ogunquit, Maine, an oceanfront resort town that caters to gay tourists, the novel centers on Danny, a college dropout who takes a job at Dishes, the gay bar that also employs his father, Jack, as a bartender. Jack was only seventeen when Danny was born, and he still lives recklessly and aimlessly, as Danny finds out when they decide to share an apartment. Though straight, Danny begins to make friends with the patrons and staff at Dishes, including a cute waitress named Mercy, and this social network offers him opportunities for growth that his father cannot provide. Dishes garnered strong reviews from the critics. A contributor in Publishers Weekly remarked that Wallace "looks beneath stereotypes about gays and teen fatherhood as he shares Danny's induction into a new subculture," and Rohrlick predicted that mature readers "will appreciate the accurate portrait of a young man trying to sort out his emotional life, seeking love and finally finding it."

In 2004 Wallace began publishing works in the "Winning Season" series for middle-grade readers. Set in Hudson City, New Jersey, The Roar of the Crowd concerns sixth-grader Manny Ramos, a short, scrawny football player whose mistakes cost his team a win and land him on the bench. The speedy Manny never loses heart, though, and when he gets another chance to prove himself, he makes the most of his opportunity. Reviewing The Roar of the Crowd in School Library Journal, Kate Kohlbeck remarked that "this story conveys an all-important message about perseverance and making the most of one's strengths."

In Technical Foul, another volume in the series, a talented but hot-headed basketball player named Jared learns to rely on his teammates when his squad falls into a slump. Ilene Cooper, reviewing the "Winning Season" series in Booklist, noted that "most of the text is play-by-play action, which will engage young sports fans." Dunk under Pressure, a sequel to Technical Foul, centers on Jared's teammate, Cornell "Dunk" Duncan. When the team advances to the state finals, Cornell, a sharp-shooting reserve, must come off the bench to hit a clutch free throw. According to School Library Journal contributor Sharon R. Pearce, "Wallace offers a good portrayal of sixth-grade boys and team dynamics." In Second-string Center, Wallace focuses on the relationship between Jared, the starter on his seventh-grade

team, and Cornell, his backup. When Jared's play starts to suffer because of his parents' divorce, Cornell offers his sympathy and support, and the team gets back to its winning ways. A contributor in Kirkus Reviews described the novel as "a strong choice" for readers interested in sports.

In Takedown, another title in the "Winning Season" series, seventh-grader Donald Jenkins must learn to harness his anger and aggression before he can earn a win on the wrestling mat. Southpaw concerns Jimmy Fleming, who moves from rural Pennsylvania to Hudson City after his parents divorce. Pressured by his father to succeed but faced with a mounting series of losses, Jimmy must turn to his new teammates for encouragement. Comparing Wallace's novel to the sports stories of Matt Christopher, Booklist contributor John Peters called Southpaw an "uplifting entry" in the series.

Wallace has but one goal for his writing: to offer an honest representation of how adolescent boys struggle to find their identity. Wallace also hopes that, after reading his books, some teenagers will realize their potential. Critics agree that Wallace's novels have touched young adults; as Ken Donelson stated in the St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, "It's safe to say that many readers … await whatever Wallace has to offer." For his part, Wallace intends to continue writing for young adults. As he remarked in an essay on the Random House Web site, "I wonder sometimes if I'll ever move away from my teenage years, in either direction, and write about little kids or adults. There's this fiery orb of matter centered on the years from fifteen to eighteen, and I don't think it will expire in my lifetime."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Donelson, Ken, St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1996, Debbie Carton, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 128; September 15, 1997, Frances Bradburn, review of Shots on Goal, p. 224; September 1, 1998, Sally Estes, review of Shots on Goal, p. 119; September 1, 2000, Frances Bradburn, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 116; September 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Playing without the Ball: A Novel in Four Quarters, p. 101; August, 2003, Michael Cart, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 1973; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, reviews of Roar of the Crowd and Technical Foul, p. 111; February 15, 2006, John Peters, review of Southpaw, p. 92; September 1 2007, Ian Chipman, review of One Good Punch, p. 131.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1997, review of Shots on Goal, pp. 143-144.

Horn Book, November-December, 1996, Mave Visser Knoth, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 747; November, 1997, Susan P. Bloom, review of Shots on Goal, p. 687; November, 2000, Susan P. Bloom, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 763.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1996, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 752; July 15, 1997, review of Shots on Goal, p. 1118; July 1, 2003, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 916; August 1, 2003, review of Restless: A Ghost's Story, p. 1025; September 15, 2007, review of One Good Punch; September 15, 2008, review of Dishes.

Kliatt, November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 22; September, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Restless, p. 14; March, 2006, Annette Wells, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 33; September, 2007, Paula Rohrlick, review of One Good Punch, p. 19; November, 2008, Paula Rohrlick, review of Dishes, p. 19.

Publishers Weekly, June 3, 1996, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 84; July 1, 1996, Heather Vogel Frederick, "Flying Starts: Six Children's Book Newcomers Share Thoughts on Their Debut Projects," pp. 34-37; August 21, 2000, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 74; August 18, 2003, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 80; October 6, 2008, review of Dishes, p. 55.

School Library Journal, November, 1997, Dina Sherman, review of Shots on Goal, pp. 124-125; October, 2000, Jack Forman, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 173; September, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 222; November, 2003, Donna M. Knott, review of Restless, p. 150; March, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 69; September, 2004, Kate Kohlbeck, review of The Roar of the Crowd, p. 219; October, 2004, Michael Giller, review of Technical Foul, p. 181; March, 2006, Kara Schaff Dean, review of Southpaw, p. 232; June, 2006, Sharon R. Pearce, review of Dunk under Pressure, p. 167; December, 2006, Michael Giller, review of Takedown, p. 158.

ONLINE

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (January 1, 2009) "Rich Wallace."

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Wallace, Rich 1957-

WALLACE, Rich 1957-

Personal

Born January 29, 1957, in Hackensack, NJ; married (divorced, 1996); married, 2000; children: two sons. Education: Montclair State College (now University), B.A., 1980.

Addresses

Home P.O. Box 698, Honesdale, PA 18431. Office Highlights for Children, 803 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431.

Career

Herald News, Passaic, NJ, editorial assistant, 1978-79; sports reporter, 1979-82; Daily Advance, Dover, NJ, sports editor, 1982-84, news editor, 1984-85; Trenton Times, Trenton, NJ, copy editor, 1985-86, assistant city editor, 1986-87; Highlights for Children magazine, copy editor, 1988-90, assistant editor, 1990-92, coordinating editor, 1992-98, senior editor, 1998.

Awards, Honors

American Library Association (ALA) Best Books for Young Adults selection and Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers, both 1997, both for Wrestling Sturbridge; ALA Best Books for Young Adults selection, 2001, for Playing without a Ball.

Writings

Wrestling Sturbridge, Knopf (New York, NY), 1996.

Shots on Goal, Knopf (New York, NY), 1997.

Playing without the Ball: A Novel in Four Quarters, Knopf (New York, NY), 2000.

Losing Is Not an Option (short stories), Knopf (New York, NY), 2003.

Restless: A Ghost's Story, Viking (New York, NY), 2003.

Technical Foul ("Winning Season" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

The Roar of the Crowd ("Winning Season" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Fast Company ("Winning Season" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2004.

Double Fake ("Winning Season" series), Viking (New York, NY), 2005.

Adaptations

Wrestling Sturbridge was adapted as an audiobook, Recorded Books, 1996; Shots on Goal was adapted as an audiobook, Recorded Books, 1998.

Sidelights

In his novels Wrestling Sturbridge, Shots on Goal, and The Roar of the Crowd, young adult author Rich Wallace has used "the metaphors of sports to explore universal themes of emerging adulthood and self-definition," according to Horn Book reviewer Maeve Visser Knoth. "Like other good writers," stated Ken Donelson in the St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, "Wallace recognizes the importance of telling a story that involves readersmostly boys, but also girls and womenwho recognize that the book is about sports and much, much more."

Wallace was born January 29, 1957, in Hackensack, New Jersey. Raised by his college-educated parents along with six brothers and sisters, he began writing as a first grader. But academics were not Wallace's strong suit. He found school to be dull, and he did not read much beyond what was required for his classes from sixth grade until after college. As a teenager, he was primarily interested in sports, especially track and cross country.

In high school, however, Wallace began writing extensively, keeping a diary in which he poured out his emotions. He also gained valuable experience by working on his school's newspaper. Wallace's evolution as a writer continued at New Jersey's Montclair State College. He took creative writing classes, including one that required him to pen a novel, one chapter per week. He also interned at the Passaic Herald-News, where he was later offered a paid writing and reporting position. Sports once again captured the majority of Wallace's attention, though. In fact, Wallace left college just two credits short of a degree. A couple of years later, he returned and completed two physical education courses to finish his degree.

After graduating from Montclair State in 1980 with a bachelor of arts degree, Wallace began reworking the novel that he had started in his creative writing class. He eventually finished the work and sent it to publishers, but every company rejected the work. Patricia Gauch, an editor at Philomel, shared some positive comments from the in-house staff, however, including several from Tracy Gates. Gates would later play a pivotal role in the publication of Wrestling Sturbridge.

Over the next eight years, Wallace continued his newspaper career, working variously as a sports reporter, news editor, and assistant city editor at a variety of New Jersey newspapers. He also married and became a father to two boys. In 1988, he began working for Highlights for Children as a copy editor. Today, he is a senior editor at the magazine, and publishing well-written stories has become Wallace's passion.

Wallace continued his own writing efforts during this period. In 1996, after working on a number of novels that "showed promise but didn't go anywhere," as he told Publishers Weekly contributor Heather Vogel Frederick, Wallace finally had a story that was different. "This one jelled right from the beginning," he continued, "I knew where it was going." Wallace sent the manuscript to Gates, who years earlier had complimented his first, failed effort. Gates, now an editor at Knopf, suggested changes to the new work, including a few additional scenes and chapters that fleshed out the story. "Wrestling Sturbridge wouldn't be what it is without Tracy, not by a long shot," the author remarked to Frederick.

Wrestling Sturbridge is the story of Ben, a high school senior and varsity wrestler who tires of being practice fodder for Al, his teammate and close friend. Faced with a bleak future in a dead-end town, Ben decides to challenge for Al's spot on the squad, despite the fact that Al is a top contender for the state title. Ben also begins a romance with the intelligent, tough-minded Kim, who believes in Ben more than he believes in himself. But "Wallace isn't writing a sports fairy story," a Publishers Weekly contributor declared. Instead, Wrestling Sturbridge offers a "strong portrait of a smothering small town," Horn Book reviewer Maeve Visser Knoth remarked, "and the hopelessness that it engenders in an adolescent." "Anyone even remotely curious about small-town America need look no further than this exemplary first novel," stated a Publishers Weekly critic.

Reviewers also praised the author's narrative voice. Wallace, "like Ben, whose voice is so strong and clear here," wrote Debbie Carton in Booklist, "weighs his words carefully, making every one count." "He [Ben] tells the story in a spare way appropriate to his undemonstrative, nonverbal nature," a Kirkus Reviews critic added, "recording fast and furious wrestling action, the steady burn of his own anger and frustration, and brief but telling glimpses of the people around him." Wrestling Sturbridge, Donelson concluded, "is about young people who care about life and about keeping promises they've made to themselves and others. It is a rare sports story because there is no super-hero and no villain."

The setting for Shots on Goal, Wallace's next book, remains in Sturbridge but moves to the soccer field. A critic in Kirkus Reviews declared that "Wallace flattens the sophomore jinx in this taut, present-tense tale of an underdog high-school soccer team battling internal dissension." The instigators of this internal dissension are Barry "Bones" Austin and his best friend, Joey. Bones realizes that he is stuck in "second place," not only on the soccer field, where he is the team's second-best player (after Joey), but also at home, where his older brother, Tommy, is the favored son of their parents.

Tension arises when Bones' object of desire, Shannon, begins dating Joey. Bones also grows resentful of Joey's increasingly selfish play on the field. As the soccer season rolls on, "a face-off between the two teens" occurs, Booklist critic Frances Bradburn stated, the critic adding that each boy is "striving to find his own identity without the other, in spite of the other." The face-off finally comes to an end after "the two friends square off in a fight that makes both aware how important their soccer team and their friendship are," according to Donelson.

Like Wrestling Sturbridge, Shots on Goal earned praise for its fully developed characters and exciting action. Dina Sherman, writing in School Library Journal, felt that the "situations and emotions that Bones experiences are all very real, and young people will relate to them." A critic for the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books added that "the soccer matches are fast, the interaction with girls unromantically realistic, and the voice is engaging, as Bones tells his story as a rueful eyewitness account."

In Playing without the Ball: A Novel in Four Quarters Wallace again invites readers to enter the world of high school sports in Sturbridge. The main character is Jay, a seventeen-year-old basketball player who supports himself by working part-time in a bar, while also living by himself above the bar. After Jay is cut from his high school team, he joins a YMCA squad that offers him the competitive outlet he needs. Jay also develops a relationship with Spit, the female lead singer for a punk band that often performs at the bar. According to School Library Journal contributor Jack Forman, Playing without the Ball "has a lot to say about friendship, independence, and self-realization." A Publishers Weekly reviewer praised Wallace's well-written game sequences, adding, "with equal skill, the author limns the resilient Jay and his realistically awkward and tentative forays into romance."

Wallace turned to the short-story form in his next work, Losing Is Not an Option. The nine interconnected tales focus on Ron, a student-athlete growing up in a small, working-class Pennsylvania town. Many of the stories "are filled with subtlety and ambiguity, offering snapshots of the protagonist at various points of his teenage life," wrote Todd Morning in School Library Journal. In "Night Game," for example, an adolescent Ron realizes that his best friend has left him behind, and in "I Voted for Mary Ann," Ron must cope with the death of his beloved grandfather. In the title story, the boy, now a high school senior, competes for the state track championship. Though a Publishers Weekly critic noted that not all of the tales are equally successful, "together they powerfully render an athlete's coming of age." According to Booklist contributor Michael Cart, the best stories in the collection "have a wonderful emotional integrity and remind readers that Wallace is a writer to watch."

A seventeen-year-old athlete encounters a supernatural being in Wallace's novel Restless: A Ghost's Story. While running through a graveyard late one night, Herbie senses that an unusual presence is following him. Intrigued, he returns again and again to the cemetery and eventually meets the spirit of a young man named Eamon. Herbie later believes that he has also contacted the ghost of his older brother, Frank, who died ten years earlier and serves as the book's narrator. According to Donna M. Knott in School Library Journal, Herbie, Eamon, and Frank "are intertwined in a search for an understanding of one another's experiences in life and in death and how to move on from them." In Restless, Kliatt reviewer Paula Rohrlick observed, Wallace "raises interesting questions about an afterlife."

In 2004 Wallace began publishing works in the "Winning Season" series for middle-grade readers. The Roar of the Crowd concerns sixth-grader Manny Ramos, a short, scrawny football player whose mistakes cost his team a win and land him on the bench. The speedy Manny never loses heart, though, and when he gets another chance to prove himself, he makes the most of his opportunity. Reviewing The Roar of the Crowd in School Library Journal, Kate Kohlbeck remarked, "this story conveys an all-important message about perseverance and making the most of one's strengths."

In Technical Foul, another volume in the series, a talented but hot-headed basketball player learns to rely on his teammates when his squad falls into a slump. Ilene Cooper, reviewing the "Winning Season" series in Booklist, noted that "most of the text is play-by-play action, which will engage young sports fans." Fast Company and Double Fake are two other titles in the series.

Wallace has but one goal for his writing: to offer an honest representation of how adolescent boys struggle to find their identity. Wallace also hopes that, after reading his books, some teenagers will realize their potential. Critics agree that Wallace's novels have touched young adults; as Donelson stated, "It's safe to say that many readers . . . await whatever Wallace has to offer."

Biographical and Critical Sources

BOOKS

Donelson, Ken, St. James Guide to Young Adult Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 1, 1996, Debbie Carton, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 128; September 15, 1997, Frances Bradburn, review of Shots on Goal, p. 224; September 1, 1998, Sally Estes, review of Shots on Goal, p. p. 119; September 1, 2000, Frances Bradburn, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 116; September 1, 2001, Gillian Engberg, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 101; August, 2003, Michael Cart, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 1973; September 1, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of The Roar of the Crowd, pp. 111-112.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, December, 1997, review of Shots on Goal, pp. 143-144.

Horn Book, November-December, 1996, Mave Visser Knoth, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 747; November, 1997, Susan P. Bloom, review of Shots on Goal, p. 687; November, 2000, Susan P. Bloom, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 763.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 1996, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 752; July 15, 1997, review of Shots on Goal, p. 1118; July 1, 2003, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 916; August 1, 2003, review of Restless: A Ghost's Story, p. 1025.

Kliatt, August, 1997, p. 53; September, 1997, p. 15; November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 22; September, 2003, Paula Rohrlick, review of Restless, p. 14.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, September 15, 1996, p. 11.

Publishers Weekly, June 3, 1996, review of Wrestling Sturbridge, p. 84; July 1, 1996, Heather Vogel Frederick, "Flying Starts: Six Children's Book Newcomers Share Thoughts on Their Debut Projects," pp. 34-37; August 21, 2000, review of Playing without the Ball, p. p. 74; August 18, 2003, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 80.

School Library Journal, November, 1997, Dina Sherman, review of Shots on Goal, pp. 124-125; October, 2000, Jack Forman, review of Playing without the Ball, p. 173; September, 2003, Todd Morning, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 222; November, 2003, Donna M. Knott, review of Restless, p. 150; March, 2004, Andrew Medlar, review of Losing Is Not an Option, p. 69; September, 2004, Kate Kohlbeck, review of The Roar of the Crowd, p. 219; October, 2004, Michael Giller, review of Technical Foul, p. 181.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), April 14, 1996, p. 7.

Voice of Youth Advocates, June, 1997, p. 114.

ONLINE

Random House Web site, http://www.randomhouse.com/ (March 24, 2005) "Rich Wallace."*

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"Wallace, Rich 1957-." Something About the Author. . Encyclopedia.com. 16 Oct. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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