Basketball is everything to Bennett Ryan.
After leading the Lincoln High Lady Lions to victory over the Riverside Storm at the Oregon State Championship last year, Bennett is determined that her senior year will bring another championship title and, hopefully, a scholarship to Stanford University. But for the white teen, who lost her father in a tragic accident when she was 15, nothing ever quite turns out as planned. After all, who could have ever predicted that her mother would accept a job as principal at Riverside, forcing Bennett to suit up with the enemy? Readers who are not true basketball superfans will have a difficult time navigating the season’s worth of minutely described play-by-play accounts detailing nearly every practice and game. Somewhere between the shots and the rebounds lies a story about friendship and loss which unfortunately is never given the room it needs to live up to its potential. Bennett is likable enough, and several supporting characters, particularly the coach’s autistic daughter, Matti, add some much-needed though sporadic off-court interest and diversity. Aside from the game itself, the relationship between Bennett and her rival-turned-teammate Teesha dominates. Readers will likely enjoy watching these two powerhouses figure out how to coexist as teammates first and then as friends. It’s a shame that the game leaves little room for much else.
Perhaps a slam-dunk for basketball fans but not so much for general readers. (Fiction. 12-14)