Waltman, Kevin. Next.
December 3rd 2013
by Cinco Puntos Press
Derrick is a good basketball player who has gotten a fair amount of local attention in Indianapolis for his playing. He is on the high school basketball team at Marion High, where he has Coach Bolden, who also worked with his father and Uncle Kid. As the new hot shot on the team, it seems like the older players, especially Starks, are trying to cut him down to size, and it doesn't help that Derrick is trying to make time with Starks' girlfriend, Jasmine. Derrick is struggling with fitting in and playing the way that Bolden wants him to play-- as part of the team, not a ball hog-- and wishes that things would just be easier. His Uncle Kid thinks they can be, as long as Derrick considers the offer from a private school, Hamilton Academy, to attend school there and be on their winning team. The school has even offered his father a security job there, which the family could use. However, Derrick's mother is very proud of their community and doesn't want him to sell out. Derrick has to decide what is most important in his life.
Strengths: Definitely purchasing. This had lots of good basketball descriptions (i.e. I didn't understand what was going on!), but I especially liked the details of how to play well as a team instead of as an individual. The family dynamics were supported but slightly strained, as is typical with teenagers, and even the budding relationship with Jasmine was rather nice. (The two meet at a bookstore, and Derrick buys a book because she is reading it.)
Weaknesses: Bad cover, especially since the library copy I had didn't even have a dust jacket. A teacher who has coached basketball (and isn't much of a reader) just stopped by and wrinkled his nose at the book, saying "What's the title? By Kevin Waltman?" There are also two gratuitous f-bombs (on pages 140 and 248) but considering that Learning the Game (2005) had many more, I may just employ my spit-and-pencil-eraser technique to gently obliterate them. Authors! You don't want your work bowdlerized, don't be a potty mouth. Geez.