A solid mix of character-driven realism and basketball action.



In a didactic but well-crafted sports story, a teen basketball phenomenon learns not to take his own superstar future for granted.

Not yet 16, Drew “True” Robinson has been treated like a star since some of his first forays onto the basketball court. When he spots a talented, solitary older player on his neighborhood court late one night, Drew thinks he's seen a ghost. What he's met is a cautionary tale: The man, who tells Drew to call him Donald, is a former basketball legend who lost everything when he became too invested in the hype surrounding him. When Drew too begins to make mistakes on the court, he seeks out Donald, haunted by the man's story. Like Donald, most characters function equally well as symbols and as people: Mr. Gilbert, the rich benefactor who treats Drew like a luxury commodity; Drew's teammate and best friend, Lee, content to pick up Drew's off-the-court slack for the good of the game. The clear message here is that young athletes should not let fame go to their heads, a case made so well by the story that Drew's continued arrogance and poor decision-making is sometimes difficult to believe.

A solid mix of character-driven realism and basketball action. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-399-25227-3

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Philomel

Review Posted Online: July 18, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2012

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Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers.


From the Orca Limelights series

Paisley McFarland is a freshman in high school who loves to sing but has horrible stage fright in this entry in a performing-arts themed series for reluctant readers.

When a local farm announces a talent show fundraiser, Paisley signs up to sing, but will she be able to pull it off? Like many young people, Paisley is also fighting her mother’s expectations of what she “should” be doing—in her case, singing classical choir pieces rather than pop music. Her best friend, Jasmeer Sharma-Smith, believes in her and convinces the famous actress and singer Maxine Gaston to coach Paisley and help with her performance anxiety. Her private lessons help give her the confidence to go onstage at the upcoming event, but Paisley also has to deal with bullying from Cadence Wang, another student singer. Much like in real life, the negative behavior is not neatly resolved. Paisley is implied white; diversity is indicated through characters’ names. In Offbeat by Megan Clendenan, Rose Callaghan is a Celtic fiddle player who hopes to win a folk festival competition in order to prove to her lawyer mother how serious she is about music she loves rather than the classical music her mother wants her to play. Things go awry when her special violin, left to her by her deceased father, breaks—will she still be able to perform well? The book follows a white default.

Appealing, accessible stories for teens interested in the arts that will tempt them to become avid readers. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-4598-1834-7

Page Count: 144

Publisher: Orca

Review Posted Online: June 18, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 2018

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One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.


A middle-aged woman sidelined by a horrific accident finds even sharper pains waiting on the other side of her recuperation in this expert nightmare by Hardy, familiar to many readers as Megan Hart, author of All the Secrets We Keep (2017), etc.

Five months ago, while she was on her way to the hospital with an ailing gallbladder, Diana Sparrow’s car hit a deer on a rural Pennsylvania road. When she awoke, she was minus her gallbladder, two working collarbones (and therefore two functioning arms), and her memory. During a recovery that would’ve been impossible without the constant ministrations of Harriett Richmond, the mother-in-law who’s the real reason Diana married her husband, Jonathan, Diana’s discovered that Jonathan has been cheating on her with her childhood friend Valerie Delagatti. Divorce is out of the question: Diana’s grown used to the pampered lifestyle the prenup she’d signed would snatch away from her. Every day is filled with torments. She slips and falls in a pool of wine on her kitchen floor she’s sure she didn’t spill herself. At the emergency room, her credit card and debit card are declined. She feels that she hates oppressively solicitous Harriett but has no idea why. Her sessions with her psychiatrist fail to heal her rage at her adoptive mother, an addict who abandoned her then returned only to disappear again and die an ugly death. Even worse, her attempts to recover her lost memory lead to an excruciatingly paced series of revelations. Val says Diana asked her to seduce Jonathan. Diana realizes that Cole, a fellow student in her watercolor class, isn’t the stranger she’d thought he was. Where can this maze of deceptions possibly end?

One of those rare thrillers whose answers are even more scarifying than its mysteries.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-64385-470-0

Page Count: 310

Publisher: Crooked Lane

Review Posted Online: Aug. 19, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2020

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Solidly drawn, both on and off the court.


From the Triple Threat series , Vol. 2

"Triple threat" Alex Myers turns his attention from football to basketball in this middle volume (The Walk On, 2014).

Alex's journey through basketball season is initially episodic. First, Alex and his teammate Jonas Ellington are forced to play junior varsity because gruff Coach Archer doesn't see football commitments as valid reasons for missing basketball practice. When they finally do join the varsity team, the boys—both freshmen—easily outplay their senior teammates, causing resentment. Meanwhile, Alex shyly courts Christine Whitford, a tenacious reporter for the school newspaper, and deals with the fallout from his parents' divorce, including a budding romance between Coach Archer and Alex's mom. When Max Bellotti, a transfer student whose own parents are divorcing, arrives midseason, the team finally has enough skilled players to be competitive. The story coalesces around Max's disclosure—first to Alex, Jonas, and Christine, and later to the general public—that he is gay. In contrast to older teen sports coming-out stories (Bill Konigsberg's 2008 Out of the Pocket, for example), the team stands largely united behind Max. In fact, some of Alex's retorts to nosy outsiders' questions read like a tutorial for supporting someone who is coming out. Woven into these many interpersonal story arcs are suspenseful and well-dramatized sports action scenes.

Solidly drawn, both on and off the court. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: Sept. 8, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-75350-0

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: June 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2015

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