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Ball Don't Lie [Kindle Edition]

Matt De La Peña
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $7.99
Kindle Price: $5.99
You Save: $2.00 (25%)
Sold by: Random House LLC


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Book Description

Sticky is a beat-around-the-head foster kid with nowhere to call home but the street, and an outer shell so tough that no one will take him in. He started out life so far behind the pack that the finish line seems nearly unreachable. He’s a white boy living and playing in a world where he doesn’t seem to belong.

But Sticky can ball. And basketball might just be his ticket out . . . if he can only realize that he doesn’t have to be the person everyone else expects him to be.

Matt de la Peña's breakout urban masterpiece, Ball Don’t Lie takes place where the street and the court meet and where a boy can be anything if he puts his mind to it.


[STAR] "[An] inspiring story. Sticky is a true original, and de la Peña has skillfully brought him to life."-School Library Journal, Starred

"Riveting...Teens will be strongly affected by the unforgettable, distinctly male voice; the thrilling, unusually detailed basketball action; and the questions about race, love, self-worth, and what it means to build a life without advantages."-Booklist

"Stunningly realistic, this book will hook older readers, especially urban teen males."-Voice of Youth Advocates

"The characters live and breath...This is a must-read."-The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books

"De la Peña does an excellent job of combining the streets with the sport. Gritty and mesmerizing."-Kirkus Reviews

"I have never before seen blacktop ball depicted so well. In this novel, you will find its flash, its power, and its elegance without chains. This is powerful stuff."-Antawn Jamison, forward for the Los Angeles Clippers

"From the very first sentence, this book grabbed me and didn't let go. The deeper I got into it, the more I felt like Sticky's story was my story. His heart, his handle, the guys in the gym, his potential pitfalls, his dreams. All of it. In a weird sense, this is my life."-Grayson Boucher ("The Professor") of tha AND 1 Mix Tape Tour

"Truly authentic in its examination of both the game I love and the invariable missteps toward manhood. You cannot fail to be moved by the eloquence and truth of this story."-Rick Fox, former forward for the Los Angeles Lakers

From the Hardcover edition.

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 9 Up–That white boy can ball….He don't play like no regular white boy. Sticky, 17, has spent his life being abused by pimps living with his prostitute mother, bouncing from one foster home to another, and living on the street between failed placements. But he's developed incredible hoop skills that have given him considerable social standing among his mostly black peers. And he gets a girlfriend named Anh-thu, who loves him and wants to help him reach his dreams. Sticky sees basketball as his way out of his dead-end life and is determined to make the right moves in the game to attain his goal. But he doesn't quite know how to make the right moves in his life, until a bad decision leads him to confront dark secrets. Jumping back and forth in time, this first novel has a unique narrative voice that mixes street lingo, basketball jargon, and trash talk to tell Sticky's sorry saga from a variety of viewpoints. Although readers who are not familiar with basketball may have trouble following some of the detailed game action, even they will be involved in the teen's at once depressing and inspiring story. Sticky is a true original, and de la Peña has skillfully brought him to life.–Jack Forman, Mesa College Library, San Diego
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Gr. 9-12. "I think God put me here to play ball," says 17-year-old Sticky. Shuffled between foster homes since childhood, the skinny, white teen devotes himself to playing basketball at Lincoln Rec, a gritty Los Angeles gym, where he has found a family among the serious players, mostly black men. In colloquial language filled with the words and rhythms of hip hop and the street, Pena's debut tells a riveting story about Sticky's struggle to secure a college basketball scholarship and deepen his relationship with his girlfriend. The disjointed narrative, which loops between past and present, may slow a few readers. Others, though, will see the nonlinear story as a reflection of Sticky's own internal journey as he faces violent childhood tragedies, his numbed emotions, and his sometimes-compulsive behavior (he repeats actions such as shoe-tying until they feel right). Teens will be strongly affected by the unforgettable, distinctly male voice; the thrilling, unusually detailed basketball action; and the questions about race, love, self-worth, and what it means to build a life without advantages. Gillian Engberg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 385 KB
  • Print Length: 290 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0385734255
  • Publisher: Delacorte Press; Reprint edition (December 18, 2007)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000XU4TB8
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #154,251 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: BALL DON'T LIE October 1, 2005
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"I could tell you a lot about this game....

"How a dark gym like Lincoln Rec is a different world. Full of theft and dunk, smooth jumpers and fragile egos. Full of its own funky politics and stratification. Music bleeding out of old rattling speakers from open to close. Old rhythm and blues. Stevie Wonder. Aretha Franklin. Funk. Motown. Marvin Gaye. Sometimes Jimmy gets talked into hard-core rap on weekends. Or Trey sneaks in his three-year-old demo tape.

"Always music.

"There are fat rats that scurry through the lane on game point. Beady eyes on the man with the ball. There are roaches congregating under the bleachers.

"There is so much dust on the slick floor that sometimes guys will go to stop and slide right out of the gym. Every time there's a break in the action, ten guys put palm to sole for grip.

"There are a hundred different ways of talking and a thousand uses of the word motherf____r.

"There are no women.

"In the winter there are so many homeless bodies spread out across court two you can hardly see the floor. There are leaks when it rains. Rusted pots are set out to collect heavy drops. Sometimes a guy will track in mud and everybody throws a fit. Jimmy sets out a twenty-five-dollar heater and everybody puts their hands up to it before they play."

Court one at Lincoln Rec is the epicenter of Sticky's life in L.A. and of his dreams for the future. Lincoln Rec is a constant for him, a positive one, unlike that series of light-colored minivans that have repeatedly arrived at the group home over the years carrying foster parents who pick him up, make him big promises about a real home...promises that for various reasons always go up in smoke and leave him, once again, chillin' back at the group home.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Style and Substance September 30, 2005
This book is really beautifully written. It's poetic and flashy and ultra hip. But the story is what makes it a great novel. Sticky's reality will break your heart. His passion, his inability to relate to others. But in the end it's all about redemption. You will be touched by this novel.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
...and listen, don't get me wrong, this is a book about ball. Crack open the binding and you'll find the best basketball writing I've ever read. You'll see Sticky dribbling left, sliding right, spinning to the hoop for a sweet layup. You'll see him looking like a pinball, bouncing off one defender after another on his way in for the score. You'll see him pull up on the break and drop nothing but net. You'll see him shatter egos and leave guys busted all over the dark courts of Los Angeles. But there's more to it than that. There's more to it than basketball, just like there's more to the game than scoring. This book is also about love. The love a boy feels for a girl. For his friends. The love that starts from nothing, that creeps up slow on you until one day you realize you love this place, this thing, these people. This place you never stopped to think about. These people you hardly know. It's about falling in love and being in love and doing anything in the world for the sake of love. It's about the love between a mother and her son. Between a son and his mother.

And of course, it's about the love of the game.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart October 2, 2005
This novel has as much heart as anything I've ever read. The main character, Sticky, isn't trying to be anybody, he's just trying to survive. The narrator doesn't judge him one way or another, he just presents him to the reader. And you feel for Sticky because he's so real. He has so much heart--even though he doesn't want anybody to see it. I fell in love with this incredible work of fiction. You will, too.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I fell in love with Sticky! September 30, 2005
What a phenomenal book! I hope there is a sequel because I fell in love with Sticky. Mr. de la Pena is a gifted writer.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticky Lives September 30, 2005
Sticky is one of the most original literary characters I've come across in a long time. He rarely speaks. He doesn't relate well to others. He's alone even when he's surrounded by people. He's OCD. But underneath all that he's an incredibly talented and vulnerable kid. Throughout the book I wanted to reach into the story and take care of him, make sure he was okay. De la Pena has created an unbelievably real adolescent boy. Beautiful book.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
By Viv
Format:Hardcover doesn't take much to fall IN LOVE with this book (or the author for that matter.) Aside from the eloquent writing; the kind that makes you feel like you are inside a movie..the author captures every part of every character. Paints beautiful pictures. Sets up all the scenes perfectly. You know Sticky because you feel him. You become part of his world; part of his pain and witness his raw, unedited, without limits and boundaries kind of passion for finding and understanding love, and for basketball. After I picked up the book, I couldn't put it down. Highly recommend!!!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slam dunk September 30, 2005
Ball Don't Lie is a gritty, fast paced novel filled with sweetness. You'll be enthralled from the first page to the final buzzer. Great story, wonderfully rich characters, and fantastic writing. A must read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
very pleased
Published 10 days ago by Daryll T. Ray
5.0 out of 5 stars Cliffhanger
it was a great book but got a little confusing to read but hands down great book would recommend to anyone
Published 4 months ago by Adam W Staudinger
4.0 out of 5 stars I don’t normally like to read and I still enjoyed reading this book
I don’t normally like to read and I still enjoyed reading this book! The main character, Sticky, is a new kind of character because he doesn’t talk much throughout the book,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by ED Hohmann
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly an urban masterpiece
Matt De La Peña is a genius. This is not the first book I read from this author, and I have to say I'm impressed by his writing. Read more
Published 16 months ago by S. S. PADUA
2.0 out of 5 stars stopid
reading from the start i was confused and i coudnt get hooked on it is relly mind bending i ve read other of matt bookss nd this one is
Published 18 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant and painful
Can't recommend this book enough: brilliant, painful, beautiful. Amazing voice, and an intriguing structure. I believed every word, because these words don't lie. Wowzers!
Published on June 19, 2012 by K. N. Tipper
5.0 out of 5 stars It's a championship basketball game with words
Fast paced and creative, the characters leap out at you and their personalities linger after the book is done. I want more of de la Pena's work. Read more
Published on December 13, 2009 by R. Daniel
4.0 out of 5 stars True, true.
I read this book for two reasons. Firstly, the film adaptation is coming out, and I wanted to see what the source material was like. Read more
Published on May 17, 2009 by Schmadrian
2.0 out of 5 stars very inapropriate
this book is good but has some inapropriate parts. there is alot of swearing and violence. i recomemd this book for people over the age of 13
Published on February 23, 2009 by Leland D. Thompson
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Book
This is a great book. Everyone should read this book. And the movie is gonna be really good.
Published on June 5, 2008
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More About the Author

Matt de la Peña's debut novel, Ball Don't Lie, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adults and an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick and was made into a major motion picture. His second novel, Mexican WhiteBoy, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Adult (Top Ten Pick), a Notable Book for a Global Society, a Junior Library Guild Selection and a Bulletin Blue Ribbon Book. His third novel, We Were Here, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers, and a Junior Library Guild Selection. His fourth book, I Will Save You, was an ALA-YALSA Best Book for Young Readers, an ALA-YALSA Quick Pick, a Junior Library Guild Selection and finalist for the 2011 Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award. De la Peña's fifth book, The Living, was a Junior Library Guild Selection, a 2014 Best Fiction for Young Adults and a Pura Belpré Author Honor Book.

His short fiction and essays have appeared in the New York Times, and various literary journals, including Pacific Review, The Vincent Brothers Review, Chiricú, Two Girls' Review, The George Mason Review, and The Allegheny Review. De la Peña received his MFA in creative writing from San Diego State University and his BA from the University of the Pacific, where he attended school on a full athletic scholarship for basketball. He lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he teaches creative writing. You can visit Matt and find out more about his books at and follow him on Twitter at @mattdelapena.

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