Bo Jackson Critical Essays

John Devaney


(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

With this book, Devaney accomplishes two major purposes: first, creating an interesting, dramatic life story of an unusually talented athlete by documenting his prowess, abilities, and successes; and second, providing an example for young people by showing that success is possible for everyone, regardless of personal circumstances. Thirteen-year-old Vincent (Bo) Jackson is described as trouble—trouble to his teachers, to his mother, and to children his own age and older. As a man, he is still described as trouble, but only on the playing fields. His opponents know that he has a special talent.

The depiction of Jackson’s early home life and living conditions reflects abject poverty and the hardships that frequently accompany such poverty. He lived in a one-parent family in very cramped quarters and had no money to buy the things that many youngsters have. His frustration and rebellion resulted in stealing, bullying others, and experimenting with drugs. Jackson also encountered difficulties with his schoolwork. Devaney’s intention was to portray Jackson as a person who overcame almost insurmountable obstacles, thus providing a role model for other youngsters.

Despite Devaney’s efforts, however, there are hints in the book that Jackson did not become a model individual and that all of his struggles did not end when he turned his life around in high school. He struggled with conforming to rules, policies, regulations, and practices in a...

(The entire section is 594 words.)