Kirkus Star


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Jerome Foxworthy, 13, loves basketball and hates baseball: ""Bunch of dudes in kneepants standing up straight and watching each other do very little. Here, Sir, I am throwing this sphere at you. Thank you, Sir, I believe I shall bop it with this stick."" Nonetheless, while watching a Little League game one day, Jerome is strangely drawn to the cool moves of a white kid playing shortstop (""he had made me fall in love with him almost""). And when super-bright Jerome is chosen to be the first black student at the white junior-high in Wilmington, N.C. (the period seems to be the Sixties), he winds up sharing a cookery class with none other than Bix Rivers, ""my baseball main man, my mystery opponent in phantom one-on-one."" Will the two super-athletes become fast friends then? Well, yes and no--because Bix, like virtually all new best-friends in recent YA fiction, is serverely disturbed: he's a moody loner who's emotionally allergic to any species of falsehood (""Mock-Apple Pie"" infuriates him); he has a remote stepfather and an unstable, institutionalized mother; he's subject to fits of wild anger. Still, though not without problems of his own (racial prejudice, his mother's serious injury), Jerome reaches out to Bix through basketball, giving the white kid--a gifted, responsive pupil--nightly lessons on a serene, isolated, outdoor court. But when it comes to ""fakes,"" those misleading moves that make the game, Bix refuses to engage in such falsity--until a one-on-one showdown match against his stepfather: the prize is a longed-for visit to Bix's mother in the asylum. And this traumatic trip, with Jerome along for the ride, will expose the guilt behind Bix's truth-obsession and the nature of his own ""moves""--which include a runaway-disappearance at the close. First-novelist Brooks becomes a bit murky and heavyhanded when tackling Bix's hangups, layering them with the somewhat strained metaphor-themes of ""moves"" and ""fakes."" But Jerome, who remains wisely ambivalent about Bix throughout (""with that dude you got to watch your step and cannot go feeling anything too fast""), is a vibrant, eclectic, endearing narrator--especially when sketching in his rich home-life (wise/warm Momma, a would-be-psychiatrist brother) and his on-court action.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1984
ISBN: 0061902675
Publisher: Harper & Row