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Ball Don't Lie Hardcover – September 27, 2005


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers (September 27, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385732325
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385732321
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,485,856 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

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, NPR.org 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 mattdelapena.com and follow him on Twitter at @mattdelapena.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This dude can really write.
rip
Great story, wonderfully rich characters, and fantastic writing.
D. Hanke
I want more of de la Pena's work.
R. Daniel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Richie Partington VINE VOICE on 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 By Lit head on September 30, 2005
Format: 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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Eric Vale on October 1, 2005
Format: 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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Venice Bookworm on October 2, 2005
Format: 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.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Reader not a writer on September 30, 2005
Format: 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.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Girls Rock on September 30, 2005
Format: 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.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Viv on October 17, 2005
Format: 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!!!
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By B. Hill on June 30, 2006
Format: 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.
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