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JUMP BALL by Mel Glenn

JUMP BALL

A Basketball Season in Poems

By Mel Glenn

Age Range: 12 - 15

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-525-67554-X
Publisher: Dutton

 Basketball dreams shatter when a high-school team bus goes out of control on an icy road in this latest novel-in-poems from Glenn (The Taking of Room 114, p. 222, etc.). The course of Tower High's championship season becomes clear through the musings of a gallery of players, groupies, teachers, parents, and bystanders; the author expertly creates dramatic tension with early hints of the tragedy to come, but the voices he creates are largely focused on their own lives and concerns of the moment. Those voices are not as strong and distinct as some messages and strokes of broadly brushed irony, e.g., two pages after Rayanne Walker declares how hard she's worked to raise her son, and how hard he works to earn college money, he is killed in an attempted robbery--and his memorial service is just another item, along with the Spring Concert and the scores, in the school's morning announcements. Though Glenn's language is largely conversational, he breaks occasionally into quick, rap- like rhythms, or even concrete poetry, evoking the feel and pace of basketball action rather than conventionally describing it. His fans will find the characters falling into familiar types, and though at its best the poetry is exciting, some superficial, indifferent adults and the imminent crushing of so many hoop dreams give the story a bitter, discouraging cast. (Fiction/poetry. 12-15)