304p. Houghton Mifflin. 2013. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547974590.
Gr 7 Up—Jonas Dolan never thought he'd go to college—his parents can't afford it. But Coach thinks he has a real shot at a scholarship with a Division Two school. Sure enough, Monitor College wants his point guard skills if he can improve his academics. When his dad gets laid off, the family relocates to the Seattle area. Jonas keeps his basketball skills sharp through the summer, when he befriends Levi, and they are joined by 20-something Hartwell. As Jonas starts his senior year, it's evident that his new coach sees things differently from Coach Russell. Jonas is relegated to second string by Coach Knecht, who favors old-school basketball with no fancy handiwork. The guys are thrilled when Hartwell is hired on as the assistant coach, but even he cannot convince the elderly head coach to change his philosophy. Jonas sees his chances at a scholarship slipping away. When Knecht collapses at a game and Hartwell steps up to head the team, he allows them to play more assertively, leading to several victories. As Harding High's fortunes improve, Jonas notices that Levi is increasingly sullen and withdrawn. Eventually, Levi admits that Coach Hartwell has been sexually molesting him, but refuses to let Jonas tell anyone. Jonas confronts the assistant coach, but Hartwell threatens blackmail. Jonas must decide if he will protect himself and keep his scholarship secure, or protect potential victims. Deuker's ability to create fully realized characters who wrestle with moral dilemmas while incorporating plenty of game action raises his novel above typical sports fiction by several notches. This one will satisfy the author's longtime fans and win him many new ones.—Kim Dare, Fairfax County Public Schools, VA
When his family moves to Seattle, high school basketball star Jonas befriends new neighbor Levi, who plays power forward. Assistant coach Ryan Hartwell appreciates Jonas's fast-breaking style, but something about Hartwell feels wrong. Eventually his misdeeds lead to tragedy, and Jonas must find the courage to do what's right. Basketball fans will love the realistic hardwood action and the story’s quick pacing.
Jonas Dolan is an up-and-coming basketball star in the Bay Area. When his father loses his job and the family moves to Seattle, Jonas befriends new neighbor Levi, who plays power forward for Harding High. Jonas, a point guard, joins the team, but old-school Coach Knecht doesn’t find much playing time for him. Thankfully, assistant coach Ryan Hartwell (who is more appreciative of Jonas’s fast-breaking style) is there to take over when Coach Knecht is injured, and Jonas starts to blossom once more. But something about Hartwell feels wrong—could it be the beer and porn he shares with Jonas, Levi, and some of their teammates, or the fact that Hartwell encourages Jonas to cheat in chemistry class? Though Jonas is hesitant to rock the boat, eventually Hartwell’s misdeeds lead to tragedy, and Jonas must find the courage to do what’s right. Deuker occasionally overdoes the sports clichés, and the characters aren’t always believable—Jonas is a little too self-aware and Levi, an observant Christian whom Jonas describes as “simple, like a child,” is just too angelic—but basketball fans will love the realistic hardwood action. Most chapters clock in at four pages or less, so the pacing is brisk. This one isn’t exactly a slam dunk, but sports fans will find much to cheer about. sam bloom

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