Author: Theodore Weesner
Genre: Contemporary Fiction YA
First Published: 2012
Page Count: 277
Film/ TV Adaptation: No
Rating: 4/5 Stars
A story about rising above adversity when the odds are against you and navigating the murky waters of adolescence.
*Annoying character dialogue
“For playing it cool is the only tool…if you’re out to win the city.” Dale Wheeler has been waiting all summer to return to school and show off his polished basketball skills. This is his big year to be co-captain of both his school team and the district team, and he dreams of winning it all. However, when an influential family moves to town, Dale finds himself kicked off the district team in favor of the family’s wealthy sons. Dale has to overcome the hurt from his unfair treatment and he has to find some way to get to the championships through another district team from the wrong side of the tracks. At the same time, Dale finds himself consumed by a taboo relationship that begins to develop with his attractive home room teacher.
I thoroughly enjoyed Weesner’s other book I reviewed, The Car Thief, but basketball is one of my least favorite sports so I wasn’t at all excited to read a whole book that seemed to be dedicated to the sport. I should’ve trusted my gut, though, that Weesner would provide me with an entertaining read because that’s just what happened. The story isn’t really about basketball at all. A strong portion of the plot surrounds Dale’s inappropriate feelings for his home room teacher and how he goes about expressing those feelings, which makes for a very interesting story. And the other half of the story is equally exciting as the reader watches Dale become ostracized by his schoolmates because he has been left off his team and because he doesn’t have the same well off family life as most of them do. These dueling story lines lead to a nail biter of a conclusion involving an energized basketball game between Dale’s new team and his old one. I would never have been interested in reading about a basketball game if there hadn’t been such a fascinating story leading up to it.
The book was mostly a hit with me, but there was one aspect of it that did bother me. Throughout the story, Dale and some of the other characters make rhymes in the dialogue, like this line: Time to show the speed, do the deed, take the lead! It just seemed so corny and took away from the gritty feel of the author’s writing. I get that the rhymes could be a mechanism to help get the reader into the mind of a ninth grader, but I think the story would’ve had the exact same effect without it.
Even so, this is another great book from Weesner. If you couldn’t tell from the last time I reviewed him, he is definitely an author that I suggest checking out. His books really make you think about society’s problems and how they affect young people. And I’ve observed after reading two of his books that he doesn’t really give you the happy ever after ending that most authors do which can be frustrating because you want the main character to finally be rewarded for all he has suffered through. However, Weesner’s endings are more realistic. Life goes on, it’s not always fair, but there is always the promise of tomorrow.
*I received a free copy of this book for this review from the author.