The third book in the Blacktop series features Frank Torres as he navigates the courts (basketball and law), streets, and classrooms of his hometown of Oakland, California.
Latino Frank and his diverse fellowship of streetballers, including Justin and Janae, both stars of earlier, eponymous books in the series, fancy themselves unbeatable. But when they move inside and play against well-coached teams, they realize “it’s a different game” inside. Though they thought they were unbeatable, they aren’t. Scrimmages reflect the complacency and arrogance that define Frank’s life, a mentality that has gotten him into trouble many times in the past—joy riding, coming to school reeking of marijuana, throwing erasers at teachers. His community mentor, Officer Appleby, tries to direct Frank toward more responsible behaviors, but it’s meeting young, tough-minded artist Toni (star of an upcoming volume) that helps Frank to shape up a bit. Alonge’s narrative effectively reveals Frank’s street smarts to be a facade, a mask he wears to cover a vulnerability and sweetness that Toni might help bring to the surface. The slim volume, with its large font and easy vocabulary, is perfect for reluctant readers in middle school and high school, with enough basketball action and bad-boy behaviors to attract a readership.
More than just sports stories, the books in the series are about characters trying to find their ways in life. (Fiction. 12-18)