While better written and more psychologically complex than most sports fiction, this compelling offering still follows a standard sports plot: the main character feels threatened by a new, outstanding player on his team. Joe Brickman, a senior at a suburban high school, is captain of his mediocre soccer team and its best player. When Antonio, a Brazilian pro, transfers to Joe’s high school and takes up with Kris, the girl Joe likes but hasn’t pursued, Joe’s life takes a nose-dive. The team starts winning but Antonio gets all the praise, while Kris acts silly and snobbish due to her new relationship. Meanwhile, other students including Joe’s closest friend are dealing on a daily basis with vicious bullying, mainly from football players. As narrator, Joe sounds modest but in fact he’s unusually physically fit, good with people, and likable, although almost unbelievably tactless when dealing with Kris. He’s so clearly courageous that his modesty appears exaggerated, saying things like, “The best way to face danger is to meet it head-on,” as he goes to confront the school’s most dangerous bully. Soccer fans will enjoy the sports action, while other readers will find the setting convincing and the story engaging. It’s too bad that the females are so weak: Kris is passive and gullible; Joe’s mother deserted her husband and son years earlier; and Joe’s father’s new girlfriend carelessly betrays a confidence. While it lacks the brilliance and humor of Klass’s You Don’t Know Me (2001), overall this is a solid school and sports story that will find a ready audience. (Fiction. 12+)

Pub Date: Oct. 30, 2002

ISBN: 0-374-39963-8

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Frances Foster/Farrar, Straus & Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2002

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A superb, complex romance full of heart, humor, and unforgettable characters.


Two promising Texas basketball players navigate the ups and downs of first love.

For 11th grade star players Carli and Rex, it’s love at first sight when he blows her a kiss from the free-throw line as she watches the game on the sidelines. Carli believes in magic and looks for signs in everyday life—like Rex’s kiss—to help her make decisions. Who should she live with after her parents’ divorce? What should she do with her future—one that won’t include basketball, which she knows will disappoint her father and teammates? Rex is a nature lover like his mother, who died giving birth to him. His father is distant, and inside their big, lonely house, Rex dreams of the NBA. Carli and Rex’s roller-coaster romance is rife with betrayal, heartbreak, grief, and family secrets. As narrators of alternating chapters, they are funny, smart, and unflinchingly candid. Well-written dialogue and fine attention to detail reveal Tamani’s strong insight into Gen Z life. The intensity and depth of Carli and Rex’s love story are conveyed as deftly as the high-energy play-by-plays in their basketball games. Tamani crafts layers of complexity around falling in love, making hard choices, and dealing with loss—on and off the court—in this deeply intimate story of two talented, sensitive teens. Carli, Rex, and their relatives and friends are Black; Rex’s teammates are White.

A superb, complex romance full of heart, humor, and unforgettable characters. (Fiction. 13-18)

Pub Date: June 9, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-265691-9

Page Count: 384

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: April 5, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2020

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Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF.


What if memories could be transplanted along with a heart?

Before Bay Area 17-year-old Chloe collapsed while running and learned about her congenital heart defect, she was a competitive senior with her eyes set on college. Life post–heart transplant is completely different, and Chloe can’t seem to connect to her old life. Inexplicably drawn to taking up surfing, she finds herself falling for Kai, her enigmatic surf instructor. But she can’t ignore the constant, haunting nightmares and surreal, fragmented memories that inexplicably bombard her. A lifelong fan of science, and especially multiverse theories, Chloe finds herself hoping that cellular memory, the ability to store memories in cells outside the brain, is true. Because she’s almost 100% sure her anonymous heart donor gave her more than just an oxygen-pumping organ. What begins as a predictable rom-com veers into alternate/parallel universe science fiction, with each layer casting more doubt on Chloe’s reliability as a narrator. A slow start with repetitive exposition gives way to a page-turning finale. SF newbies may find the conclusion thought-provoking even if the puzzle pieces of Chloe and Kai’s relationship don’t always quite click into place. Chloe is White and Kai, who is from Hawaii, is biracial (Japanese/White).

Romance and quantum physics intertwine in this frothy introduction to multiverse SF. (Science fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5362-0776-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Candlewick

Review Posted Online: July 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2020

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