HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND by Rick Telander

HEAVEN IS A PLAYGROUND

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Some great basketball players have come from the city playgrounds, and still do, but they represent only a small percentage of the kids who play there, devoting their lives to becoming stars. Rick Telander, a white ex-football player from the Midwest, unaffectedly introduces a group of young blacks from the Foster Park playground in Brooklyn, all of whom aim to be the next Earl Monroe or ""Dr. J."" He spent the summer of 1974 there, hanging out, playing ball, and taking a rather ineffective turn as a coach for a teenage team, the Subway Stars. This unique playground is the home court of Rodney Parker, an amateur, full-time agent who arranges for promising players to escape from the ghetto into prep schools and colleges where they can be ""like a white middle-class kid going to a normal high school."" This reputation draws young players because--denied the many options of middle-class Americans--a pro career is the only route to success that these kids know. Concisely, Telander describes the development of the individual players, their backgrounds, their attitudes toward basketball, and their relationships with Parker. He makes few conclusions about their futures, but readers will sense the futility for most of them. Even the few successes are tarnished--by drugs, insecurity, lack of discipline. A fine projection of how a playground can be heaven to some but hell to those not able to make the leap out.

Pub Date: Feb. 14th, 1977
Publisher: St. Martin's