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Playing Without the Ball by [Wallace, Rich]
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Playing Without the Ball Kindle Edition

3.9 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

There are dozens of detailed, play-by-play descriptions of basketball games in Playing Without the Ball--good news for basketball fans; perhaps bad news for the less enthralled. Rich Wallace, author of Wrestling Sturbridge, is a sportswriter and coach, and it shows. He writes with vigor and authority about the inner workings of athletic competition and the progress of a game but in this book, fails to connect those elements with the plot and convince us that the outcome matters. But never mind. For some teens, as one of his characters says, "There's never enough basketball."

Jay McLeod is "the only 17-year-old around who's living alone"--in an apartment over a bar while he finishes his senior year of high school. His mom left when he was nine, and his dad opted out early last year to live his own life, leaving his almost-grown son in the casual care of the bar owner. In the evenings Jay has a job downstairs in the kitchen, frying up wings and egg rolls while other people are partying in the next room. But it's not too bad. Jay has time for lots of basketball for its own sake, and the freedom to check out girls and see where that leads.

Rich Wallace has a keen ear for the nuances of young sexual encounters, and his female characters are comfortable with themselves in their easy athleticism--both elements score points in a story that nevertheless bounces off the rim. (Ages 14 and older) --Patty Campbell

From Publishers Weekly

Demonstrating once again his gift for combining taut sports action with understated but convincing characterization, Wallace returns to the same small Pennsylvania town from Wrestling Sturbridge and Shots on Goal. Seventeen-year-old Jay McLeod's mother left when he was nine, and his father has just moved to Los Angeles. Jay decides to stay behind until June in order to play varsity basketball, knowing that as a "borderline" player, it may be his last. He's shocked when the coach cuts him from the team, but isn't quite ready to leave Sturbridge just yet. Jay knows plenty of reasons to stay: his friend Spit, a gifted punk-rock singer with even more family baggage than Jay; the new church basketball league, whose players may not be as accomplished as the school team's but are just as committed and competitive; and the chance to figure out just where he might be headed. Wallace's detailed play-by-play descriptions deftly capture the rush felt by players deep in a game, anywhere and at any level; with equal skill, the author limns the resilient Jay and his realistically awkward and tentative forays into romance. A novel rebounding with pleasures for YA readers of all types. Ages 14-up. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Product Details

  • File Size: 443 KB
  • Print Length: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Laurel Leaf (August 18, 2010)
  • Publication Date: August 18, 2010
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B003EJDGQO
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,381,380 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jay McLeod is growing up fast. When his father moves to California, Jay stays behind in Sturbridge, PA, to play his senior year of high school basketball. Jay's mother had moved out long before, so this leaves Jay on his own. He lives in an apartment over the cafe where he works as a cook. When he fails to make the basketball team, he joins a Methodist youth group so he can play on their team in the YMCA league.
The author skillfully captures the action on the basketball court. Readers who enjoyed his "Wrestling Sturbridge" will enjoy this as well. This book, however, cannot be put in the hands of as broad an audience because of Jay's sexual activity. There is no graphic description and the author does include a couple of redeeming points: Jay practices safe sex, and his love-live hits a snag when a college-girl he has his eye on learns of his casual sexual relationship with another girl.
I recommend this book for 10th grade and up.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Basketball isn't a big sport in the town of Sturbridge--wrestling is what they are known for. But for Jay, basketball is the only sport. Jay is a high school student living on his own. His mother left him and his father when Jay was only a child, and his father raised him alone ever since then. But now his father has decided to travel across the country and settle in California. He thinks Jay should come, too, but Jay wants a chance to stay and play basketball for his high school's team. He starts a job working as a cook in a bar on nights and weekend, and he lives for free in a couple of rooms above the bar.

Living alone doesn't bother Jay much. He focuses on basketball all the time. He wakes up early to play pickup games down at the gym. He plays in the afternoons and the evenings and every other time he can find. Basketball is the focus of his life, and he can't wait for basketball season to start at school. Plus, there are a handful of girls he is interested in who keep him on his toes--Spit, the singer from the band that plays at the bar; Julie, a girl who comes to the bar to see him; and Dana, a girl he plays against in the morning basketball league.

This is an interesting year for Jay, regardless of what happens with the girls and with the team.

The story is good, with plenty of varied and vivid characters. Jay himself, though, was very hard to believe. He is a high school student living all alone, surrounded by drugs and alcohol, and he never gets into any trouble. I simply couldn't buy that as reality.
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Format: Hardcover
Jay McLeod is a senior in the town of Sturbridge. His mother took off when he was nine leaving him in the care of his father. Bored with the single parent routine, Dad decides to go to California in search of a new life. 17 year old Jay stays behind with hopes of making the basketball team. Dad makes an arrangement with friend and local bar owner, Shorty, to allow Jay to live in an room above the bar and work as a cook on the weekends. The book details Jay's final year of high school as he faces the many trials and tribulations of a not-so-typical 17 year old, on his own.
Although the book holds the readers interest, the ending was a disappointment. Rich Wallace does a great job developing the characters, yet at the end, the reader is left hanging. I think the book would have enormous appeal to young male athletes because of the play-by-play descriptions of basketball games. The female characters in the book are interesting, yet I think the average teenage girl would become bored with all of the detail on the inner-workings of basketball. Overall, the book is easy to read. The format-the book is written in four quarters-is very "reader-friendly". I fear many teens would be disappointed when they reach the end of the book.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book was quite an interesting story about love and basketball, not necessarily in that order. Jay, the main character, is a 17 year-old that was abandoned by his parents. His mother left him, when he was 9 and his father left him in Sturbridge, Pennsylvania to move to California, during Jay's last year of high school. His father left him under the "eye" of a bar owner named Shorty. Jay lives above the bar and he is employed at the bar, as a cook.

It is Jay's desire to play for the high school basketball team. He tries out for the team, and even makes it to the 3rd day, but he gets cut from the team. He is disappointed about this, but he gets up the next day to go play at the YMCA. He decides to try-out for the church league. He makes the team and they go all the way to the Championship. During his run with the church league, he meets a girl named Kylie. On the other hand, his friend, Sarita (Spit), is jealous. Nevertheless, Jay and Kylie fall in love.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
Have you ever wondered about what your friends mean when they say girls come into play in their life? Jay in the book " playing without the ball" is faced with the same type of problem as what your friends mean. This book has that same conflict but with girls and basketball. This was the greatest book I have ever read, not just because basketballs my favorite sport but because it dragged me right into the book and I could not put it down. I used to hate reading, since this book I found out how exciting it can be. This book had a lot of details in it. Jay had played basketball for a church team in league at the Y. His team then makes it to the championship game as they play the toughest team in the league. This book has a great deal of meaning, and I just loved it!
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