Box Out
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Box Out

4.1 12
by John Coy

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John Coy turns to the high-stakes world of high school basketball in this fast-paced YA novel--now in paperback with new cover art!

Sophomore Liam Bergstrom just joined the varsity basketball team. His teammates made varsity because they're good. Liam's here because he's tall and Coach needs a guy who can grab rebounds. It's the chance Liam's been waiting for,

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John Coy turns to the high-stakes world of high school basketball in this fast-paced YA novel--now in paperback with new cover art!

Sophomore Liam Bergstrom just joined the varsity basketball team. His teammates made varsity because they're good. Liam's here because he's tall and Coach needs a guy who can grab rebounds. It's the chance Liam's been waiting for, but already he's playing catch-up. The other guys know what Coach expects, and they're willing to do things Coach's way, no matter what. So when Liam questions the team's practice of praying together before games, he's suddenly the odd man out. Now Liam has to find the guts to stand up for what he believes in--and take his game to a whole new level.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Naomi Milliner
Things appear to be looking up (no pun intended) for 6'4" sophomore Liam Bergstrom. He has a pretty girlfriend (even if she is in France for the semester) and has just made the varsity team as a replacement for an injured player. All too soon, however, there are problems in paradise: Liam blows two free throws, causing his team to lose his first game; his girlfriend may be cheating on him, and his coach and teammates pray before every meet and wear bracelets reading HWJC: How Would Jesus Compete? When Liam tells his mom about the praying, she channels Spiderman: "With gifts come responsibility." Liam then phones Americans United for Separation of Church and State. Soon after, a letter is sent to his school, and Liam is sent to the principal's office. For a novel about separation of church and state, Box Out is extremely preachy. It is also heavily geared toward boys and basketball fans. (Did I mention boys and basketball?) Most of the characters are one-dimensional, and some, like Liam's girlfriend and grandmother, are pointless as well. Near the end, the author throws in some Walt Whitman for good measure, but it feels contrived. Worst of all, the writing itself feels strangely detached, leaving the reader with a hero who is hard to root for. Reviewer: Naomi Milliner
KLIATT - Paula Rohrlick
Liam, a high school sophomore, is thrilled when he's asked to join the varsity basketball team to replace an injured player. The tough coach values Liam for his height, so he can grab the rebounds: to box out means to put yourself between a player and the basket to get the rebound. But Liam starts to feel boxed in when Coach's insistence on praying before games in his public school makes him uncomfortable. When talking to the coach doesn't help, Liam ends up having a lawyer's letter sent to make the prayers cease. Liam feels good about doing the right thing, but the consequences are rough, and he ends up quitting the team. Meanwhile his girlfriend, who's away in France for the semester, breaks up with him by e-mail. When Liam is asked to practice with the girls' team with his new friend Darius, the girls' coach helps Liam realize he has his own road to follow, and that he can rebound from the difficulties he's been facing. Lots of on-the-court action adds to the appeal of this coming-of-age tale by the author of Crackback, with its clear message of standing up for yourself and what you believe in. Liam and his friends and family are sympathetic characters, and YAs, particularly sports fans and reluctant readers, will be able to appreciate his dilemmas. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
School Library Journal

Gr 7 Up

When high school sophomore Liam is called up to play varsity basketball, he finds the team in some distress. Darius, the only black member and the leading offensive player, quits during the half-time of Liam's first game, feeling dissed by the coach. Liam then attends an invitation-only Athletic Fellowship meeting at a teammate's house, where he is manipulated into joining in the reading of a "Champion's Prayer," strengthening his doubts about the amount and kind of prayer that the coach directs at every pregame and half-time. The teen is secure in his Catholic faith, but fears he'll lose playing time, at least, if he rocks the coach's boat. Using the Internet to investigate and then press the separation of church and state, he indeed suffers the wrath of his coach, administration, and former teammates, so that he, too, quits the team. He and Darius are recruited to toughen up the varsity girls' team as they make their run at State. Coached by the art teacher who runs practices akin to a yoga workout and assigns poetry as well as scrimmages is a welcome change for Liam, who makes serious strides both on and off the court. The message that one must choose one's own road is certainly worthy, and the combination of basketball action, Liam's thoughtful responses to off-court issues, and the involvement-and final game-between the boys and girls will appeal to many hoops fans.-Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA

Kirkus Reviews
High-school sophomore Liam Bergstrom is excited to have been called up from JV to play varsity basketball. But Coach Kloss's team prayers and his subtly racist comments to Liam's teammate Darius Buckner spur both players to quit the team. To top it off, Liam's father criticizes him for quitting, and his girlfriend, studying in France, breaks up with him by e-mail. But Liam rebounds and trusts himself to find his own road, with the help of another coach, Darius and the poetry of Walt Whitman. Details of the game don't always ring true-a bounce pass wouldn't be "a bullet"; a high-school coach wouldn't have to explain what boxing out is-but simple, present-tense prose, lively basketball action and the moral tenor of the novel make this a solid choice for sports fans. (Fiction. 12 & up)

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Product Details

Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.10(d)
530L (what's this?)
Age Range:
12 Years

Meet the Author

John Coy is an award-winning author, who worked as a dishwasher, mattress maker, and tour guide before taking up writing. He's active in sports and is a member of the NBA Reading All-Star Team as part of the Read to Achieve program. John has traveled to all fifty states as well as to many countries internationally.

His work includes Strong to the Hoop, an American Library Association Notable Book, Night Driving, a Marion Vannett Ridgway Memorial Award winner and a Horn Book Fanfare title, Two Old Potatoes and Me, a Charlotte Zolotow Honor Book, a Nickelodeon Jr.¹s Best Books of the Year, and a featured book on PBS Reading Rainbow, and Vroomaloom Zoom, a book of excellence on the Children¹s Literature Choice List. His newest picture book Around the World is about international basketball.

John¹s latest title is Crackback, a young adult novel that reveals the high stakes world of high school football as a young player finds himself in a difficult situation. John's experience as a defensive back on his high school football team brings an authentic voice to which readers will be able to relate. “As a boy I loved playing football in the back yard and later in organized games,” says John. “Football was the one place where smashing into people was not only okay, it was rewarded.”

The idea for the novel came when he wrote Strong to the Hoop. “My editor for Strong to the Hoop said that the language and action convinced her that I had a novel in me and that she would like to see it when I wrote it,” John states. “When I was ready to write it, the topic that grabbed me was high school football.”

John also wanted to convey his belief that it is impossible to overestimate the degree of identification some teenagers have with sports. “I was such a teenager, and my choices for reading such books were much more limited than the options available today.”

John Coy writes and plays sports in Minnesota and wherever else he can join a game.

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