From School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up--Set in the 1970s, Hoover's story is based on the obstacles that are often thrown in the path of talented young athletes. Bennett Wilson is a standout basketball player at Mt. Vernon High School. Basically a solid scholar-athlete, he is also the oldest of three children of a single mother whose life is plagued by low income, marginal health, and too many responsibilities. As a result, Bennett shoulders more than his share of the burden, including serving as a role model for his younger siblings. Enter the sleazy, drug-peddling, money-flashing (if you throw the game) character, and the stage is set for the young man's downfall. Bennett is often his own worst enemy but, despite the loss of his job and girlfriend, as well as his prestigious scholarship, he ultimately resists both bribe money and drugs. Ironically, he is shot in retaliation for this resistance and dies. Hoover's cautionary novel is flawed by dialogue that struggles to be cohesive. The narrative is filled with non sequitors and unlikely scenarios. At one point, Bennett is invited to be a guest on a television talk show; at another, he is awarded the key to the city by the mayor. Neither event is smoothly integrated into the story line. The depiction of high school life is often improbable and occasionally gratuitously crude. The author's decision to make Bennett well motivated despite undeniable and true-to-life temptations is clouded by his death at story's end.
Sylvia V. Meisner, Allen Middle School, Greensboro, NC
Copyright 1997 Cahners Business Information, Inc.