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Waltman, Kevin. Learning the Game.

WALTMAN, Kevin. Learning the game. Scholastic. 217p. c2005. 0-439-73109-7. $16.95. JS

Waltman, the author of a similar YA novel, Nowhere Fast, knows how to get at the heart of an adolescent boy, especially one unsure of who he is. The protagonist is Nate, who lives a comfortable life in the best section of a small town in Indiana: he is the younger brother of Marvin, whose life appears to be in ruin after an accident with a gun. Marvin knows when Nate is involved with his basketball team in a burglary at a local frat house, and he helps Nate figure out what to do in the aftermath. Basketball is Nate's passion, and he has worked so hard to be part of the varsity team, he doesn't seem able to say no to the team bad boy who urges the robbery. The heroic figure is Jackson, the only black member of the team, who refuses to go along with the robbery and talks sense to Nate. Nate's snobbish father figures that Jackson, because he IS black, must have been in on the robbery. Another main figure is Lorrie, Nate's girlfriend, who also is a dedicated basketball player. Lorrie's advice to Nate, when he tells her the truth, is that he should never admit his guilt--so he is torn apart by conflicting opinions and must search inside himself for the solution. In doing so, he understands things about himself that will change him forever.

For a sports book, there are a lot of words about feelings and thoughts; but there are also many passages of sports action that will satisfy those who like basketball. Most athletes will understand the pull of teammates and the lure of belonging to a team, which would make most of us weak enough to go along with the group even if the group is not doing what's right. And then lying to protect teammates, to keep a team together--we all understand how that would happen. This is a book that has appeal for all YAs. There are some instances of the F word, but nothing that would shock any YA at all. Claire Rosser, KLIATT

J--Recommended for junior high school students. The contents are of particular interest to young adolescents and their teachers.

S--Recommended for senior high school students.
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Author:Rosser, Claire
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jul 1, 2005
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