Adopted from Poland three and a half years ago, Adam decides that basketball may be his “passport to a good life.”
Originally Adam Sobieski, the white teen is now Adam Reed, his adoptive single mother’s name, and life has gotten more complicated. The two of them have moved to a small Minnesota college town from Philadelphia, where Adam first began to learn basketball. With his increased height—he’s now 6 feet 6 inches—he is gaining attention and is invited to play with an elite team in the Twin Cities. Teased for his poor English and social awkwardness, Adam has only one friend until Carli Anderson, also a basketball star, enters his life. The green-eyed white girl pushes him in multiple ways, and gradually Adam begins to understand more than just the game. When Adam plays with an all-black team of excellent players, he learns some uncomfortable truths. Class and money, racial injustice, and loyalty to true friends come into focus. The book is written as though Adam is speaking to readers in broken English that is both unconvincing and unfortunately played for laughs. Nonetheless, Adam is appealing, and Herbach’s ability to expand the narrative from solid game play to confronting racial injustice is remarkable.
No one here is perfect, and their failures make readers cringe yet root for success. Hoops and so much more. (Fiction. 14-18)