Customer Reviews


30 Reviews
5 star:
 (24)
4 star:
 (4)
3 star:    (0)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: BALL DON'T LIE
"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...
Published on October 1, 2005 by Richie Partington

versus
0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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 22 months ago by Amazon Customer


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Richie's Picks: BALL DON'T LIE, October 1, 2005
By 
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
"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.

Court one is where he, a seventeen-year-old white boy, builds his skills playing an extremely physical style of pickup basketball with an assortment of tough, older black guys. On court one, where either you are seriously in the zone or you're spending all day with your butt in the bleachers, Sticky is determined to play and win.

As Dante, a former pro player and a regular at Lincoln Rec explains to him, Sticky has started the "life being a race" thing "three stones back." Not only has Sticky had to deal with the failings of his drug-addicted, prostitute mother and, later, with those repeated rejections by foster parents, but he also has "that mental thing, where you gotta do stupid stuff over and over and over." The depictions of Sticky's frequent ritualistic behaviors, revealing his struggles with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, are agonizing. But, ironically, it is that same compulsion that keeps him so focused on constantly perfecting his skills, whether they be related to basketball or to other, less noble, pursuits.

"Won't you help me girl

Just as soon as you can?"

--Al Green

There's the bright high school girl with the beautiful green eyes, Anh-thu, who works in Miller's Outpost. Sticky meets her one day when he drops in there to steal some new pants. "Annie" seems able to see through the hard shell to the real Sticky.

The story bounces back and forth from Lincoln Rec to scenes of Sticky's early days with his mother, the different experiences with foster families, playing J.V. hoops at school, hanging out partying with the guys, and being with Anh-thu. All together, there must be a hundred different characters we meet, and each one is unique and memorable. A number of those characters are homeless, some sleeping on cardboard on court two, others in a public toilet somewhere. Sticky's world is on the underbelly side of L.A. And regularly we get glimpses of the "other world" in the form of faceless businessmen who come walking in on their lunch break to watch what's going on and then return to their offices to tell their co-workers about the games, the fights, and, undoubtedly, about the skinny white kid with the moves.

"Rob's weight is on the back of his heels on defense. Waiting.

"The face rattles off truth in situations like this. Fear flickering in Rob's wide eyes: Get too close and Sticky sticks a jumper in his eye. Too many possibilities when the man with the ball gets to say which way and when, how fast and for how long. And you can multiply all that by ten if the guy can play. Get busted on in front of everybody. Get dragged all game by the skinny white kid everybody talks about.

"All the loudmouths on the sideline are at full attention.

"Sticky jab-steps right and pulls back, keeps his dribble.

"Rob retreats.

"Sticky is: through the legs, around the back, playing hoops with a yo-yo. Walk the dawg when everybody calls for a trick. Hold the ball too long.

"He is: stolen Nike shoes, stolen mesh shorts, ankle socks. Back and forth handling the ball, knees bent, his eyes in Rob's eyes. Piss off the old purists who cry for a return to fundamentals. The ones who've lost so much vision they're blind to the dance of it all. The spin move like a skirt lifting pirouette on callaused toes. The dip. Jump shot splashing through the net like a perfect dismount."

A damaged white teenager, a bunch of tough black "ballers," a dark rec center in L.A., and the girl with the eyes come together to make this gritty, urban story a powerful, rhythmic read. The thrumming beats and the sweat dripping out from between the pages also place author Matt de la Pena squarely in contention for Rookie of the Year honors.

You'll see this on my Best of 2005 list later this year.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Style and Substance, September 30, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars People are gonna tell you this is a book about basketball..., October 1, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
...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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heart, October 2, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I fell in love with Sticky!, September 30, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sticky Lives, September 30, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ThIs bOy is aLL hEArT, and ThiS bOoK is thE bEst reAd eVeR!, October 17, 2005
By 
Viv "Viv" (somewhere, CA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
..it 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!!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Venice Don't Lie, June 30, 2006
By 
B. Hill (Santa Monica, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
It is a shame that this novel hasn't gotten more recognition in the literary world. True it has appeared on a couple very notable best-of lists, but it deserves more. No reviews in any major newspapers, no evaluation in the major literary journals, and no pub in the pedestrian sports books like Sports Illustrated and ESPN. That's a disgrace. It merits prominent attention from the tastemakers. Sports fans consistently beg for prose and films that are faithful and sincere depictions of the world they revere with unbridled, rampant passion. Literary folks, in turn, constantly, and quietly, whisper on college campuses, at book readings and within intellectual circles about the pathos of modern fiction. Yet, here sits on the shelves of Amazon a debut, which should be considered groundbreaking and ingenuous to these two separate sets that could not be on further ends of the flavor spectrum.

A reader can feel simultaneously honored and stupefied by the prose of de la peña. Honored because a stranger is ushered comfortably into a world of truth and stupefied because this same candid world can feel so foreign to our "normal" emotional barometer. Venice, CA is a magical place to anyone who has stepped off the well-treaded boardwalk and into the tangled vines of class, dreams and race on its narrow, overgrown streets. de la peña not only steps, he stomps into these neighborhoods, pulling no punches as he acts as a literary translator to the hieroglyph of Venice culture on the papyrus of constricted beach walk-thrus, unrecognized sandy ghettos and voiceless orators of working-class ethos. This author is a troublemaker.

Venice has always been an eccentric enclave by the sea that attracts and rears troublemakers. Usually these so-called troublemakers are castaways from the mainstream. Aging hippies, counter-culture punk-rock surfers, gangsters, skaters, and visionary "deadbeats" historically have made Venice their home. These folks had no place in Outback Steakhouse Americana, so they found their way to a milieu where they could safely and loudly challenge the status quo. After all, Venice had the first major pocket of African-American owned land in Los Angeles (Ghost Town) and Dogtown essentially birthed the X-Games lifestyle here. Folks come to Venice to find themselves and then let the world know that they are here in the most unique and idiosyncratic of voices.

Sticky is a hoarse foster kid that needs to be heard. On the surface, he is a typical Venice knucklehead, looking to throw down with society because that is what is expected of a troublemaker who's been dealt a foldable hand. But dig deeper with de la peña and find a wounded soul in need of a venue to squeeze out some kind of meaningful expression. Like most Venice residents, he burns to take on the median with defying, counter-culture articulation. To do something meaningful, this kid with literally nothing needs magic and, luckily for him, he resides on the streets of a magical enclave.

Basketball, and more specifically the sports' necessary skills honed on the streets, has long been a barometer of heart. Many have stepped on asphalt or hardwood with sick talent only to find that their heart shrank to the size of a pea when the crowds unnerved them. Fear pumps through blood streams at half-court and great talents evaporate on this hallowed proving ground when bodies surround it. You see one can't hide from a crowd. Crowds are an exposure of truth: You either got it or you don't. Venice is known for its crowds as much as it is for its magic.

Sticky finds magic in the soft touch of worn synthetic leather. Between the fading lines of a rundown court filled with Venice troublemakers, he waves a wand made of magical fingertips and stands out from a crowd of dreaming hoop players. In a world of fast-paced, kinetic movement, Sticky is able to curb a debilitating obsessive-compulsive disorder because he sees a playground game in refined slow motion. He thrives on court vision and instinct. And instinct is the main artery of navigation, just like Lincoln Blvd, that runs the width of Venice. A kid with instinct can survive out here. A kid with instinct can throw it all back in the face of the proverbial man. Alva did it on his skateboard, Dennis Hopper did it on his camera, and Sticky will do it with a beat-up basketball stolen from a group home. The question is, as it was with Alva and Hopper, can he simultaneously do it with meaning and go unscathed.

de la peña deconstructs race and class in this book with a hand gentler than Morrison or Wright. Racism and classism can be cruel and there is a sense of the tragically absurd in the cruel life that is Sticky. Humor eases him into questionable mentoring and pushes him into painful rites of passage. That's always been the genius of special works. Hit us with humor and twist the knife in the gut of our protagonist. Denis Johnson does it, Spike Lee does it, and Joe Strummer did it.

Sticky is a lonely ship navigating the treacherous Venice canals without supervision or necessary guidance. His advice comes at the bottom of a forty proof guttural throat or from the high-pitched nasal whine of an overbearing liberal do-gooder. But, like all of us in this life, advice is only that, advice, and Sticky must make his own way with just the truthful eloquence of a honed skill set to drive him. In this case, that skill set is on a basketball court.

de la peña has put together a powerful memo that puts the powers-that-be on notice: The voiceless will not sit back without voice any longer. There is something daring to this work. It is tangible and magical. Ball Don't Lie will not leave you apathetic.

de la peña should be considered an innovative auteur. He has exposed the ironies of the daily morality, politics and race in this country with a slight of hand that would make the thief in his lead character proud.

Ball Don't Lie is homage to the power of a writer's observation and recollection of environment. It ranks alongside The Bluest Eye as a genuinely groundbreaking first novel. We should all hope that this extraordinary work is the first installation in a powerful chorus of prose to come. It should be a notable book in the New York Times review. It should be mentioned in Sports Illustrated. People are sleeping on this important piece of fiction, but that should be expected. After all, it is about Venice: The land of counter-culture and in-your-face expression. Ball Don't Lie may be overlooked, but it cannot go ignored.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Slam dunk, September 30, 2005
By 
D. Hanke (Los Angeles, CA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
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.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This Actually Made Me Tear Up, October 3, 2005
This review is from: Ball Don't Lie (Hardcover)
First of all, I'm not a sensitive guy. Really. I hardly ever get choked up about anything. I'm also not a big reader. But my girlfriend gave me this book and demanded I read it. So I did. And it was awesome. I couldn't believe how much I identified with Sticky. I'm a little older (I'm in college now), but I didn't have a great family life either. I was pretty much raised by my grandmother and grandfather. Sticky has such a tough life. But he keeps going. He's not a great student, but he learns stuff on the streets. How come that's never talked about? You can learn so much outside of a classroom. Anyway, there were two sections in this book where my eyes got all blurry because I felt so bad for Sticky. I have to say, this book was really great. Yes, a book. If my high school teachers had made us read books like this in school maybe I would have got better grades.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 3 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Ball Don't Lie
Ball Don't Lie by Matt De La Peña
$5.99
Add to wishlist See buying options
Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.