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NIGHT HOOPS by Carl Deuker


by Carl Deuker

Pub Date: April 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-395-97936-6
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Deuker (Painting the Black, 1997) weaves wide bands of fastbreak, pulse-pounding basketball action into this piercing exploration of family loyalties and parental failure. Prepared by years of practice, Nick marches triumphantly into high school, through basketball tryouts and onto the team—along with, to his disgust and amazement, despised Trent Dawson, a vicious ne'er-do-well neighbor who has never seemed more than a smaller version of his very bad-news big brother, Zack. But Trent can play, with the same intensity that Nick finds in himself. On the boards, Trent shows signs of wanting to turn his life around, and there, Nick can also escape both the pain of his parents' divorce and the influence of his bullying, manipulative father. In the end, the two lead their team into a district championship despite a two-and-five start and, in a climax that will have even readers not up on bball jargon riveted, a 19point deficit in the fourth quarter of the final game. It's only the beginning for Nick, but the triumph is bittersweet for Trent, who turns his back on the fragile stability he's achieved to follow his brother, now a wanted felon, into hiding. Expertly juggling a sackful of subplots, Deuker gives his characters understandable (if not always defensible) motives, and role models whose strengths and flaws are laid out with painful precision. Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sportswriting matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories. (Fiction. 1115)