"Ross, who teaches writing and English at Algonquin College and has written four other books for Orca, delivers convincing dialogue and off-field action, as well as intense sports scenes, all of which keep the story racing forward." (Quill and Quire, Jan 2014)
"Above All Else is a fast-paced mystery with some excellent dialogue, action scenes, and an important message: one should not jump to conclusions and/or judge others until all of the evidence is in." (CM Magazine, 2014)
This team’s winning streak has taken an ugly turn.
Del plays striker on his high school soccer team, the Cardinals, and they’ve gone almost three seasons undefeated. To Del, it’s just a game, but some of the players think winning is all that matters. When an ugly tackle results in a major loss for the Cardinals against their main rival, the Rebels, things get heated between the teams. That night, one of Del’s teammates has his ankle broken by an unknown assailant, leaving him unable to take part in the playoffs.
As Del tries to figure out which of the Rebels’ players is responsible for the attack, his coach brings in a substitute player, and he’s actually really good. Is it just a coincidence, or did someone finally take the above all else mentality too far?
Where it came from: I do really like sports. Mostly I enjoy individual sports; snowboarding, skateboarding, surfing. Activities where it is you and your skills and abilities only. Man against nature, not man against man. Team sports have always caused me a certain level of anxiety. I don't enjoy trying to beat another person one on one. I don't enjoy how heated and personal it can get. But, I know it doesn't have to get this way. Team sports are not really about beating another team, but winning as a group. Yet in order to win as a group, each member of the team must succeed on their own. This is where Above All Else came from. Del wants to be a better soccer player. He wants to always be improving. Whether the team wins or loses doesn't matter as much as whether he feels he has played as well as he could.