CM . . . .
Volume VI Number 21 . . . . June 23, 2000
"As the game progressed, Matt found it extremely difficult to sit on the sidelines and watch the play. He wanted to get up out of that chair and grab the ball, go in for a lay-up and put some points on the board for the good guys. Instead, he sat in his chair and watched his buddies race down court with the ball. Sitting there, doing nothing, was one of the hardest things he'd ever done. Glancing over at Free Throw, Matt couldn't help but admire his friend. He was cheering his team on, changing and coming up with plays out of the blue like this was what he'd always planned to do with his life."This book follows Free Throw, written by the same author, and it brings back the same characters. Matt Eagletail, a 13-year-old First Nations boy, lives in Calgary with his mother and stepfather, who is white, and his five stepsisters. Matt, who lives and breathes basketball, shares his enthusiasm with his Internet pal, John "Free Throw" Salton, who has been in a wheelchair since a car accident a few years before. Free Throw wants to coach basketball and is very talented in thinking up new plays and strategies. Free Throw comes to stay at Matt's for the summer, and together they form a basketball team for a summer league, recruiting other First Nation boys and friends, and even taking two girls on the team when they prove their abilities. Before the season begins, Matt is injured in a fall and must spend a week in a wheelchair while his leg muscles heal. He begins to appreciate the difficulties that Free Throw faces all the time and marvels at his friend's ability to shrug off discrimination and hardship. Matt's arch rival, John Beal, a thoroughly unpleasant bully, also has a team in the league, and he tries, by rough tactics and cheating, to win the championship. However, Matt and Free Throw manage to thwart Beal's plan and emerge victorious.
While basketball is the main theme of this book, with long and detailed descriptions of play, strategies and tactics, the author also works in several other themes, including violence, bullying, cheating, racial slurs, discrimination against girls, the disabled, and "geeks." The "good guys," who are all very tolerant, understanding and courageous, are obviously role models for the readers. The dialogue, meant to be between young teenagers, sounds very adult and overly sophisticated, but the basketball action is fast and furious and includes a wealth of detail for the intended reader, a young basketball enthusiast.
Luella Sumner is the librarian at Red Rock Public Library in Red Rock, ON.
To comment on this title or this review, send mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.