Friday, October 17, 2014

Guy Friday--Slump

Waltman, Kevin. Slump
14 October 2014, Cinco Puntos Press
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline

In this sequel to Next, Derrick Bowen is back at his old school , still dating Jasmine, and waiting for the new basketball season to begin. Coach Bolden is practicing everyone really hard, and the team hopes to be good, but one of the players injures his ankle, and the team isn't gelling the way everyone hopes. Derrick is having trouble in his own life, too: his best friend is so caught up in his relationship with his girlfriend that he never has time for Derrick, Derrick's own relationship is strained because of conflicts over sex, and Derrick's father is in an auto accident which leads to lots of rehabilitation, as well as financial concerns for the family. His mercurial Uncle Kid tries to help out, but Derrick finds himself thinking that many of his problems could have been solved if he had taken the offer at the private school, especially since his father could have worked there. Hard work and a positive attitude help Derrick deal with the difficulties and ultimately triumph.
Strengths: This series, D-Bow High School Hoops, is very well written and intriguing, but is unfortunately solidly for high school students. I love the descriptions of the basketball practice sessions, and Coach Bolden is a great coach. Derrick's relationship with Jasmine is realistic, and his relationship of convenience with Daniella is a tremendously great object lesson for high school boys. The questions and struggles that Derrick has because of his socioeconomic status are ones which many students face. I really, really liked this book.
Weaknesses: HOWEVER, I would not be comfortable handing this to one of my students. It was fine as long as Jasmine and Derrick were considering certain actions, but when Derrick actually follows through with them with Daniella, this becomes too much for middle school. There are another two f-bombs, one used in practice that was kind of an interesting choice, since the coach let it slide, but one hurled by Daniella that was too much. Definitely purchase this for public and high school collections, but read first before purchasing for middle school. Most librarians are more comfortable with these subjects than I am.

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