A rousing saga of sports and spirituality.



A young man obsessed with basketball tries to puzzle out God’s game plan in this sprightly Christian motivational memoir.

Hammond, a high school basketball coach in Missouri, starts out by recounting his boyhood dream of becoming an NBA star, which he pursued with single-minded intensity through amateur leagues, summer camps and school teams. It’s a story full of juvenile drama—last-second wins and losses, an agonizing wait to find out if he made the varsity starting squad—that the author tells with panache and a dollop of self-deprecating humor, which obliquely registers the pain of discovering that he’s not quite good enough for the college level. But when the pre-med direction doesn’t pan out—he faints while observing an operation—Hammond feels called to recommit to the game by becoming a coach and teacher, an ambition that’s not quite as lofty as his former dreams of NBA glory, although, in its way, it can be just as absorbing. His career scramble takes him to a small-town school with a flagging team in dire need of a turnaround, then on to a metropolitan Kansas City high school basketball powerhouse, where some of his more important revelations come from supervising a humble detention class. Threaded through this picaresque is his growing Christian faith, which affirms itself through trials great (his mother’s bout with cancer) and small—his struggle to break with a soulless collegiate party culture; a soured romance; and the persistent doubt about whether he’s choosing the right path in life. Hammond’s love of the game animates the narrative, which is full of gripping play-by-play, subtle explications of on-court strategies and leadership insights both gratifying and harsh, especially when a losing season forces him to take a hard look at his unwieldy coaching system. But basketball is also a hook for his probing, complex take on religious priorities. The game serves as a metaphor for his active, fighting faith, not to mention a possible false god that can distract from a life of deeper meaning and purpose. Hammond’s lively prose and down-to-earth perspective make his lessons in devotion unusually resonant.

A rousing saga of sports and spirituality.

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2012

ISBN: 978-1624191916

Page Count: 236

Publisher: Xulon Press

Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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