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Slam

by Walter Dean Myers

Publisher's Weekly : A love of basketball isn't necessary to enjoy this gritty, feelingly told tale, but it would certainly help. Myers (The Glory Field) uses contemporary urban black locutions to relay his narrator's view of the mean streets of Harlem, as well as describe some heart-thumping hoop action in a novel that, like most good sports stories, is about more than just sports. "I can hoop," says Slam. "Case closed.... You can take my game to the bank and wait around for interest." Grandiose fantasies of his future as a millionaire NBA star--or maybe a millionaire movie producer--are about all that he has on his mind, even though he is on his way to flunking out of the magnet high school he just transferred to, his grandmother is dying, his father is out of work and hitting the bottle again and his oldest friend appears to be dealing crack. Only when he is playing basketball does Slam know what moves to make and how to relate to the people around him. The rest of the time he stumbles, alienating his mother, girlfriend, teachers, even his coach and teammates. But, as the plain-speaking assistant coach tells him, "Everybody is in the game off the court," and Slam finally realizes that it's his attitude, not other people, that holds him back. Enduring truths, winningly presented. Ages 12-up.

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

School Library Journal : Gr 8 Up-Seventeen-year-old Greg, nicknamed Slam because of his ability on the basketball court, is the narrator of this street-wise novel. He is one of a small number of blacks who attends the Latimer Arts Magnet School in the Bronx. Though a junior, this is his first year at Latimer; he has problems keeping his grades up, and his basketball coach and some teammates resent his playing style. Along with these struggles, Slam faces some typical teenage woes with the opposite sex, his younger brother, etc., as well as some more serious concerns-a father who drinks too much, drugs on the streets, and a good friend heading for big trouble. Slam's battles both on and off the court parallel one another, demonstrating that easy resolutions to difficult problems are rare. As the book reaches its climax, the young man begins to realize that he needs to approach life like he does basketball, which is a possible start in the right direction. Plenty of high-intensity basketball action and street lingo from the "hood" will appeal to reluctant readers. Once again, Myers produces a book that reinforces his standing as a preeminent YA author. Booktalk this title along with James Bennett's Squared Circle (1995) and David Klass's Danger Zone (1996, both Scholastic) to basketball-minded teens.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information, Inc. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms