by Joseph Quijote ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 27, 2012
Tells two stories that sometimes compete with each other, but brilliant billiards battles make it worthwhile.
Two billiards players—one older and disabled, the other ambitious and in a slump—try to improve their game.
After some punks hustle young Henry at pool, his father teaches him everything he knows about how to work the table. Henry learns well, but his trip to Vegas turns disastrous when he bests the wrong guys and winds up with a mangled leg. More than 20 years later, he works at a poolroom and meets Jason, whose billiard skills seem to have vanished. While Jason focuses on helping a man whose son needs a $100,000 operation, Henry debates whether anyone else can play pool “in the zone.” In Quijote’s debut novel, the 21-year gap in time, near the book’s midpoint, divides two stories. The first follows Henry from age 14 to his recovery from his beating, and the second details Jason’s arrival at Maxie’s Billiard Emporium and the subsequent tourney. While the merging of the two stories works well, some of it disorients: Henry becomes a supporting character in the second half, and significant people, such as Moe, who helps the crippled man, disappear without explanation. Henry’s girlfriend, Jasmine, plays an important role in his life, but most female characters are mere objects of lust or blatant displays of vulnerability—and usually the resultant tears lead to sex. Henry’s “in-the-zone” technique gets adequate explanation, but we don’t learn why only Henry can achieve this state of being. The author hits the mark where he should; he regales with scenes of cue-stick war and saves the most impassioned bout until the end. And Quijote cleverly plots the story—some of those characters from the first half do make appearances later, and a subplot involving a woman trying to blackmail Jason leads to an uproarious late-night confrontation at a motel.Tells two stories that sometimes compete with each other, but brilliant billiards battles make it worthwhile.
Pub Date: Sept. 27, 2012
Page Count: 220
Review Posted Online: Dec. 27, 2012
Share your opinion of this book
In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.
Awards & Accolades
A fifth-grade New Orleans girl discovers a mysterious chrysalis containing an unexpected creature in this middle-grade novel.
Jacquelyn Marie Johnson, called Jackie, is a 10-year-old African-American girl, the second oldest and the only girl of six siblings. She’s responsible, smart, and enjoys being in charge; she likes “paper dolls and long division and imagining things she had never seen.” Normally, Jackie has no trouble obeying her strict but loving parents. But when her potted snapdragon acquires a peculiar egg or maybe a chrysalis (she dubs it a chrysalegg), Jackie’s strong desire to protect it runs up against her mother’s rule against plants in the house. Jackie doesn’t exactly mean to lie, but she tells her mother she needs to keep the snapdragon in her room for a science project and gets permission. Jackie draws the chrysalegg daily, waiting for something to happen as it gets larger. When the amazing creature inside breaks free, Jackie is more determined than ever to protect it, but this leads her further into secrets and lies. The results when her parents find out are painful, and resolving the problem will take courage, honesty, and trust. Dumas (Jaden Toussaint, the Greatest: Episode 5, 2017, etc.) presents a very likable character in Jackie. At 10, she’s young enough to enjoy playing with paper dolls but has a maturity that even older kids can lack. She’s resourceful, as when she wants to measure a red spot on the chrysalegg; lacking calipers, she fashions one from her hairpin. Jackie’s inward struggle about what to obey—her dearest wishes or the parents she loves—is one many readers will understand. The book complicates this question by making Jackie’s parents, especially her mother, strict (as one might expect to keep order in a large family) but undeniably loving and protective as well—it’s not just a question of outwitting clueless adults. Jackie’s feelings about the creature (tender and responsible but also more than a little obsessive) are similarly shaded rather than black-and-white. The ending suggests that an intriguing sequel is to come.In more ways than one, a tale about young creatures testing their wings; a moving, entertaining winner.
Pub Date: Nov. 11, 2017
Page Count: 212
Publisher: Plum Street Press
Review Posted Online: Feb. 22, 2018
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018
Share your opinion of this book
A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.
In the ninth book in the Bluford young-adult series, a young Latino man walks away from violence—but at great personal cost.
In a large Southern California city, 16-year-old Martin Luna hangs out on the fringes of gang life. He’s disaffected, fatherless and increasingly drawn into the orbit of the older, rougher Frankie. When a stray bullet kills Martin’s adored 8-year-old brother, Huero, Martin seems to be heading into a life of crime. But Martin’s mother, determined not to lose another son, moves him to another neighborhood—the fictional town of Bluford, where he attends the racially diverse Bluford High. At his new school, the still-grieving Martin quickly makes enemies and gets into trouble. But he also makes friends with a kind English teacher and catches the eye of Vicky, a smart, pretty and outgoing Bluford student. Martin’s first-person narration supplies much of the book’s power. His dialogue is plain, but realistic and believable, and the authors wisely avoid the temptation to lard his speech with dated and potentially embarrassing slang. The author draws a vivid and affecting picture of Martin’s pain and confusion, bringing a tight-lipped teenager to life. In fact, Martin’s character is so well drawn that when he realizes the truth about his friend Frankie, readers won’t feel as if they are watching an after-school special, but as though they are observing the natural progression of Martin’s personal growth. This short novel appears to be aimed at urban teens who don’t often see their neighborhoods portrayed in young-adult fiction, but its sophisticated characters and affecting story will likely have much wider appeal.A YA novel that treats its subject and its readers with respect while delivering an engaging story.
Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2004
Page Count: 152
Publisher: Townsend Press
Review Posted Online: Jan. 26, 2013
Share your opinion of this book
Hey there, book lover.
We’re glad you found a book that interests you!