ISBN 0064471403 - Books that have gotten multiple awards are usually surrounded by such an aura of "You HAVE to like this book!" that I find my expectations too high. Slot Machine seemed to be one of those - A Best Book for Young Adults, Young Adult Choices for 1997, Winner of a 1995 Bulletin Blue Ribbon, and A Recommended Book for Reluctant Young Adult Readers... that's a lot to live up to! To my surprise, it does!
Elvin and his friends go to a summer retreat known as Twenty-One Nights with the Knights. Elvin's got a negative outlook from the start and things immediately live down to that perspective. Not, in any way, athletic, Elvin struggles as he is pushed to fit into a "slot". Everyone, they tell him, has a slot - and all of those slots are athletic. After proving that he's definitely not an athlete, and making an unpleasant discovery about the "in" crowd guys, he reaches bottom. And he finds that he likes it there! He's not alone, and it's clearly his "slot".
I can see why Slot Machine would get a Reluctant Reader award - Elvin might be more of a misfit than the reader, but almost every young adult FEELS like a misfit at some time! He's a funny character, with a bit of the smart-aleck. Lynch does a really nice job with all his characters, leaving me wishing for a peek at next year's Twenty-One Nights with the Knights.