Abdul-Jabbar and Obstfeld (Sasquatch in the Paint, 2013) team up for another exploration of the intersection of sports and life conduct.
Chris is a good, quiet kid who likes to keep his head down. As he says, “I was friendly to everyone but friends with no one.” Still, if the machinery of thought made much noise, Chris would be a one-man band. For a 13-year-old, he does considerable shrewd, high-ground thinking, as do his friends (“You know,” one says, “not talking about things doesn’t actually make them disappear”). Where it really shows itself is on the basketball court, where he plays a savvy, court-wise game. Enter his brother, Jax, a golden boy who appears to have fallen from the pedestal upon which his well-intentioned parents have placed him, and Chris’ still waters are about to feel a hefty stone break their surface. Add his classmate Brooke, a sharp girl with plenty of her own baggage, and a waterspout is in the making. The authors’ light hand allows readers to inhabit the characters; to taste the value of respect, dignity and vulnerability; and to embrace the elemental joy of sports—all without ever feeling like they are being tube fed. The shifting structure of the story and a clever series of blind alleys keep readers on tenterhooks.
A deft, understated sports thriller with a solid moral compass. (Fiction. 8-12)