The Penalty

Publisher: Candlewick
"Any reader who starts this astounding novel will be hard-pressed to put it
down. Stunning, original, and compelling." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)


As the city of San Juan pulses to summer’s sluggish beat, its teenage soccer prodigy, El Brujito, the Little Magician, vanishes without a trace — right after he misses a penalty kick and loses a big game for his team. Sports reporter Paul Faustino is reluctantly drawn into the mystery of the athlete’s disappearance, and as a story of corruption and murder unfolds, must confront the bitter history of slavery and the power of the occult. This gripping novel from the author of KEEPER and TAMAR is not to be missed.

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PROLOGUE: DEVOTION

You would think the boy is alone, but he is not. Facing him is the Brazilian defense. That plastic beer crate is Michel. The little heap of stones is Luisao, who today is holding the center. The almost-leafless sapling that grows magically out of nothing is the magisterial Cafu. The ancient...
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PRAISE FOR

"I can't begin to describe how terrific this book is. . . . A glorious, cartwheeling, magical, frightening story. . . . Peet uses the fact that soccer players are known to be superstitious — and that great soccer players can appear to be supernatural — to explore ideas of faith, luck, and corruption. But in doing that, he has somehow caught more of the magic and atmosphere of soccer than other, more straightforwardly descriptive writers." — Frank Cottrell Boyce, THE GUARDIAN