Sports are a metaphor for life in Sweeney’s outing (Spirit Window, 1998, etc.) where naïveté and trust meet up with unbridled ambition. Expectations are high for Corey’s basketball team to win the title, but they need one more player in their starting line-up. Noah is new, from Georgia and suspected of racism by the black players. He’s got such a good outside shot that Corey swings the whole team—except best friend Luke—into voting him in. High-school sports throughout the country vary somewhat, but few coaches would be so willing to pass such control to players, and this coach is one smart cookie. Gulp that implausibility and the access players have at half-time to kids not on the team and you’re off. There’s just enough play-by-play basketball to satisfy sports enthusiasts, but the emphasis is on Corey’s education via the dirty work Noah is willing to dish out to not only play, but also to play first string and his preferred position, center. Corey has two sisters, one younger, vulnerable, and wise beyond her years, the other shortly to be married, and totally self-centered, but not as Machiavellian as Noah. The parents, as in most YA novels, are mostly invisible, and the romantic entanglements serve to complicate the friction surrounding who plays and who doesn’t, but never demand the spotlight. Characters are appealing and less one-dimensional than in typical sports fare. Everything happens quickly and the message is valuable, if occasionally less than subtle. Kids who have played on teams will enjoy exploring the complexities of team dynamics, and basketball enthusiasts will simply lap this one up. (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2000

ISBN: 1-890817-54-6

Page Count: 225

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2000

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Eddie, a young Mexican-American scraping by in the mean streets of Fresno, California, counts four dead relatives and one dead friend in the opening, in-your-face lines of this new novel from Soto (Snapshots from the Wedding, p. 228, etc.). In bleak sentences of whispered beauty, Eddie tells how he dropped out of vocational college and is attempting to get by with odd jobs. His aunt and friends want him to avenge the recent murder of his cousin, but Eddie just wants to find a way out. Everything he tries turns soura stint doing yard work ends when his boss's truck is stolen on Eddie's watchand life is a daily battle for survival. This unrelenting portrait is unsparing in squalid details: The glue sniffers, gangs, bums, casual knifings, filth, and stench are in the forefront of a life without much hope``Laundry wept from the lines, the faded flags of poor, ignorant, unemployable people.'' Soto plays the tale straightthe only sign of a ``happy'' ending is in Eddie's joining the Navy. The result is a sort of Fresno Salaam Bombay without the pockets of humanity that gave the original its charm. A valuable tale, it's one that makes no concessions. (glossary) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1997

ISBN: 0-15-201333-4

Page Count: 148

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1997

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When Clara Luna, 14, visits rural Mexico for the summer to visit the paternal grandparents she has never met, she cannot know her trip will involve an emotional and spiritual journey into her family’s past and a deep connection to a rich heritage of which she was barely aware. Long estranged from his parents, Clara’s father had entered the U.S. illegally years before, subsequently becoming a successful business owner who never spoke about what he left behind. Clara’s journey into her grandmother’s history (told in alternating chapters with Clara’s own first-person narrative) and her discovery that she, like her grandmother and ancestors, has a gift for healing, awakens her to the simple, mystical joys of a rural lifestyle she comes to love and wholly embrace. Painfully aware of not fitting into suburban teen life in her native Maryland, Clara awakens to feeling alive in Mexico and realizes a sweet first love with Pedro, a charming goat herder. Beautifully written, this is filled with evocative language that is rich in imagery and nuance and speaks to the connections that bind us all. Add a thrilling adventure and all the makings of an entrancing read are here. (glossaries) (Fiction. 12-14)

Pub Date: Sept. 12, 2006

ISBN: 0-385-73343-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2006

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