Readers interested in the drama, politics, and injustices of high school sports should find much to contemplate in this...

THE BUBBLE

EVERYTHING I LEARNED AS A TARGET OF THE POLITICAL, AND OFTEN CORRUPT, WORLD OF YOUTH SPORTS

An athlete offers a reflection on the trials and tribulations of high school sports.

The subtitle of Castro’s debut book is an honest summation of her work, a thoroughly detailed account of her experiences in the small-minded, parochial world of high school sports—in her case, soccer. The author, now a college student, first tried and fell in love with the sport while in middle school in California; soccer then became the “center” of her universe. The decision to play the sport turned out to be a momentous one, and she eventually enrolled in Green Hills High School, which, as Castro writes, was “on the other side of town, “the rich side” as we called it.” At Green Hills, she encountered a different world, with multimillion-dollar homes and a “high school with an ocean view.” It was also, as she soon discovered in her experiences on the school’s soccer team, a world rife with cliques, helicopter parents, and strict hierarchies. In the course of her book, the author describes engaging in soccer fights, finding herself in a rivalry with her team’s upperclassmen, getting suspended, breaking her leg, and eventually transferring to a different school after a falling out with her coach. By the end of her story, her point is clear: The “youth athletic environment” has become overly “politicized and professionalized.” Another issue Castro encountered as a Latina player was the casual racism of her fellow teammates. But she displayed grit and determination throughout, crediting her father with teaching her to “work harder than everyone else with the same goal to get it.” At over 250 pages, the volume is a little too long given the scope of the author’s subject matter and should have been pared down. Still, as a real-life portrait of the politics of high school sports in suburban California, her book delivers an engrossing examination of class, race, and the hierarchies at the hearts of American high schools. 

Readers interested in the drama, politics, and injustices of high school sports should find much to contemplate in this account.

Pub Date: N/A

ISBN: 978-1-5439-4585-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: Kurti Publishing

Review Posted Online: Oct. 5, 2018

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One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

BACK FROM THE DEAD

A basketball legend reflects on his life in the game and a life lived in the “nightmare of endlessly repetitive and constant pain, agony, and guilt.”

Walton (Nothing but Net, 1994, etc.) begins this memoir on the floor—literally: “I have been living on the floor for most of the last two and a half years, unable to move.” In 2008, he suffered a catastrophic spinal collapse. “My spine will no longer hold me,” he writes. Thirty-seven orthopedic injuries, stemming from the fact that he had malformed feet, led to an endless string of stress fractures. As he notes, Walton is “the most injured athlete in the history of sports.” Over the years, he had ground his lower extremities “down to dust.” Walton’s memoir is two interwoven stories. The first is about his lifelong love of basketball, the second, his lifelong battle with injuries and pain. He had his first operation when he was 14, for a knee hurt in a basketball game. As he chronicles his distinguished career in the game, from high school to college to the NBA, he punctuates that story with a parallel one that chronicles at each juncture the injuries he suffered and overcame until he could no longer play, eventually turning to a successful broadcasting career (which helped his stuttering problem). Thanks to successful experimental spinal fusion surgery, he’s now pain-free. And then there’s the music he loves, especially the Grateful Dead’s; it accompanies both stories like a soundtrack playing off in the distance. Walton tends to get long-winded at times, but that won’t be news to anyone who watches his broadcasts, and those who have been afflicted with lifelong injuries will find the book uplifting and inspirational. Basketball fans will relish Walton’s acumen and insights into the game as well as his stories about players, coaches (especially John Wooden), and games, all told in Walton’s fervent, witty style.

One of the NBA’s 50 greatest players scores another basket—a deeply personal one.

Pub Date: March 8, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-1686-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 19, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2016

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Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading...

CONCUSSION

A maddening, well-constructed tale of medical discovery and corporate coverup, set in morgues, laboratories, courtrooms, and football fields.

Nigeria-born Bennet Omalu is perhaps an unlikely hero, a medical doctor board-certified in four areas of pathology, “anatomic, clinical, forensic, and neuropathology,” and a well-rounded specialist in death. When his boss, celebrity examiner Cyril Wecht (“in the autopsy business, Wecht was a rock star”), got into trouble for various specimens of publicity-hound overreach, Omalu was there to offer patient, stoical support. The student did not surpass the teacher in flashiness, but Omalu was a rock star all his own in studying the brain to determine a cause of death. Laskas’ (Creative Writing/Univ. of Pittsburgh; Hidden America, 2012, etc.) main topic is the horrific injuries wrought to the brains and bodies of football players on the field. Omalu’s study of the unfortunate brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster, who died in 2002 at 50 of a supposed heart attack, brought new attention to the trauma of concussion. Laskas trades in sportwriter-ese, all staccato delivery full of tough guyisms and sports clichés: “He had played for fifteen seasons, a warrior’s warrior; he played in more games—two hundred twenty—than any other player in Steelers history. Undersized, tough, a big, burly white guy—a Pittsburgh kind of guy—the heart of the best team in history.” A little of that goes a long way, but Laskas, a Pittsburgher who first wrote of Omalu and his studies in a story in GQ, does sturdy work in keeping up with a grim story that the NFL most definitely did not want to see aired—not in Omalu’s professional publications in medical journals, nor, reportedly, on the big screen in the Will Smith vehicle based on this book.

Effectively sobering. Suffice it to say that Pop Warner parents will want to armor their kids from head to toe upon reading it.

Pub Date: Nov. 24, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8757-7

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 15, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 1, 2015

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