Close friends Stuart and Sam face new challenges when Sam’s heart condition ends his basketball career.
Sam is the captain and among the best players on his high school basketball team. His spirited friend Stuart is the team’s water boy. During the city championship game, Sam collapses and learns that he has a heart condition that sidelines his dream of playing college basketball. Stuart, who was born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, had convinced Sam to join the school’s Best Buddies program, but, devastated by his diagnosis, Sam doesn’t want to participate in the program anymore—or do much of anything. This sends Stuart into a tailspin with potentially dangerous consequences. The latest in the author’s One-2-One series (inspired by a real program that matches students with intellectual disabilities with their neurotypical peers), the story of Stuart and Sam’s friendship is sweetly and sensitively told. Both characters are white; Stuart’s adoptive family is black, while Sam’s family immigrated from Bosnia. The book’s best scenes feature the friends together as Stuart strives to make the track-and-field team, and the relationship between the boys is presented authentically. Unfortunately, other plotlines and secondary characters feel thin and forced, and the book overall suffers from dated and inauthentic teen dialogue.
A well-intentioned hi-lo story of a special friendship that misses the mark with a thin plot and weak characterizations. (author’s note) (Fiction. 12-18)