Even the most casual reader will discredit this hodgepodge of exaggerated and poorly motivated characters and the gagging plot in a style that varies from cool and casual to forced and formal. (Of living room trophies: ""The entire Birks family was adept in all forms of vigorous endeavor."") Jacket-and-tie Joe won't give up his Westchester ways when he first moves to California but life on the basketball court changes all that. Fair enough -- but not the prep school kids who offer him a scholarship if he'll switch schools; not the grudge-bearing Del who accepts a similar offer, then fouls out when they play and almost fouls Up his life trying to drive Joe off the road; not the red convertible Christmas present so Mother won't have to drive him to school (he has no license at the time); and certainly not the away-in-Alaska father who arrives at the police station after Del's accident on the day of the championship game. The insides of four families (Del's sisters are June and July) but all you get is hoop croup.