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How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free

How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free

5.0 2
by Jon Ripslinger

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Danny "the Bruiser" Henderson has a plan. He's going to hustle cool, beautiful Angel McPherson, the best female player in the state of Iowa, on the basketball court. But he has no idea that she is hiding a shocking family secret. And what about Danny's own secret? Both Angel and Danny have a lot to learn about trust—and love—on the court and off. John


Danny "the Bruiser" Henderson has a plan. He's going to hustle cool, beautiful Angel McPherson, the best female player in the state of Iowa, on the basketball court. But he has no idea that she is hiding a shocking family secret. And what about Danny's own secret? Both Angel and Danny have a lot to learn about trust—and love—on the court and off. John Ripslinger tells their story in robust, masculine writing that packs a punch.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Ripslinger's (Triangle) novel about a romance between Iowa teen athletes is likely to sustain readers' interest but doesn't quite gel in the end. Narrator Danny has a crush on loner basketball star Angel McPherson, and he persuades her to give him free-throw lessons (which continue even after he accidentally breaks her ankle on the court). But while sparks seem to be flying (they kiss during a rain storm), she is secretive about her home life and ignores his invitation to a party. Rumors circulate that Angel is gay, but it's actually her mother who lives with another woman. Danny knows about secrets (he says his mom died of cancer, but she was killed riding on the back of her lover's motorcycle); he promises to keep her secret, but even that doesn't convince Angel to let down her guard. Readers may appreciate the basketball player's nontraditional beauty-"no Barbie doll," she's a muscular girl who doesn't wear makeup, and Danny finds her much "hotter" than the cheerleaders who angle for his attentions. Descriptions of fishing spots, pig roasts and other local attractions evoke the setting, and Angel's discomfort about her family, and Danny's own misconceptions of gay people, come off as realistic. Unfortunately, however, Angel's ability to ice out all her peers seems extreme, and her sudden turnaround at the conclusion too dramatic. These and other unconvincing elements (e.g., Angel's calm reaction to the ankle injury) ultimately undermine the impact of the novel. Ages 12-up. (Apr.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Of all the girls to get a crush on, Danny Henderson has to have it bad for Angel McPherson�the "stone angel" of Big River High School. Danny has the perfect plan to get Angel into his life. He is going to ask her to teach him to improve his foul shooting. In return, Angel asks Danny to help with her inside game. But on their first practice together, Danny comes down hard on Angel and breaks her ankle. Still, things are clicking between them, despite the certainty that both Danny and Angel are holding back family secrets. Danny has been harboring a secret about his deceased mother for as long as he has lived in this town. Angel, new to town herself, is so determined to keep her mother's private life under wraps that rumors are flying that Angel is gay. Jon Ripslinger draws on his thirty-five years of teaching experience to relate this realistic, truthful, dead-on narrative. He has a great ear for dialogue, creates a host of memorable characters, and strings together enough plot twists to make this a very satisfying read. 2003, Roaring Book Press/The Millbrook Press,
— Christopher Moning <%ISBN%>0761327479
Angel "the Stone Angel" McPherson is a superb basketball player slated to play on an all-star team. Outstanding on the court, she is a friendless loner left out of the high school social scene and is the subject of rumors. Danny "the Bruiser" Henderson is an admired athlete on both the basketball court and the football field. Son of his high school's football coach, Danny is quiet and well liked. When Angel and Danny participate in a charity free-throw contest, they become attracted to each other. Unlike "normal" teenage couples, however, Danny and Angel have secrets that they are loathe to share with others. Living alone with his father, Danny tells the world that his mother died of cancer when he was an infant. The harsher truth is that his mother died in a motorcycle accident with her lover, causing Danny's dad to dislike and mistrust women and Danny to feel abandoned. Angel tells people that her father, an Air Force pilot, died tragically in a training exercise. The truth is that Angel is a test tube baby, the daughter of a lesbian. Angel has had many painful moments growing up when friends have discovered the truth about Angel's mother and her "aunt." Ripslinger creates believable, empathetic characters in a laudable addition to the young adult problem genre. Danny and Angel are three-dimensional teens who grow and mature as events unfold. Angel's mother is presented as a normal woman who truly loves her daughter; Danny's father is a good man. Adult situations and language make this book a good choice for mature readers. PLB
— Rachelle Bilz
Angel McPherson is all-star athlete of the girls' basketball team, and Danny Henderson is determined to hook her attention—and affection. Although his free-throw skills are lacking, Danny challenges Angel to a shoot-off at the charity assembly. His loss provides the perfect excuse to request Angel's assistance...and make her fall in love. When Angel accepts his offer, Danny is delighted. His plan unfolds perfectly, until he realizes that Angel is guarding a family secret. But she isn't the only one with a skeleton in the closet; Danny is hiding a secret of his own. When rumors spread and Angel is accused of being gay, both teenagers must confess their secrets and confront the truth. They learn to accept their families and themselves, while discovering important lessons about honesty, trust, and love along the way. Whether basketball player or spectator, guy or girl, this book is sure to score! 2003, Roaring Brook Press, 178 pp., Ages young adult.
—Jennifer Erickson
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Danny Henderson enters a free-throw shooting contest, pitting himself against Angel McPherson, the star of the girls' basketball team, while all the students in his Iowa high school watch. He fully expects to lose, but he's willing to undergo the agony of defeat for the chance to get to know Angel, who keeps everyone at the school at arm's length, but has terrific legs. His plan works and soon he's playing one-on-one with her in a secluded park. Unfortunately, in the midst of the game, Angel breaks her ankle, but this isn't enough to stop a romance from being kindled. It gradually becomes apparent, though, that both Angel and Danny have things to hide: she keeps secret the fact that her mother is gay, while he lets no one know that his own mother died in the midst of an affair only a few months after he was born. Throughout the spring, their clandestine relationship goes through a series of ups and downs, until finally they scandalize the school by openly showing affection, and Angel uses a class discussion to bring up the prejudice her mother faces. The characters, who by turns act heroically and stupidly, always seem like real kids. Other characters, such as the protagonist's jock dad, are also fully realized. This winning novel is effectively told through Danny's first-person narration, and it features a compelling plot that's sometimes funny and sexy and sure to have broad appeal.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Danny Henderson faces many obstacles on the road to winning the aloof Angel McPherson, a.k.a. the Stone Angel. First is the rumor that she is a lesbian. Next is a father whose advice to Danny about women is "stay away." Undeterred, Danny asks Angel, whose skill at basketball far exceeds Danny�s, to help him with his free throw. Angel�s response to Danny seems clearly to indicate that the rumor is false, yet her initial interest turns to rejection as she pushes Danny away and becomes more solitary than ever. As it turns out, she and Danny have more in common than basketball: each harbors a secret so shameful that neither has ever revealed it to another soul. Angel is hiding the fact that her mother is gay and that her father is an anonymous sperm donor. Danny has never revealed to anyone that rather than dying of cancer, his mother perished with her lover in a motorcycle accident. One can�t help admiring Danny�s commitment to his heart�s desire in the face of heavy opposition. Ripslinger, showing potential, perhaps takes on too many issues. Angel�s mother�s lesbianism receives sensitive treatment, but Danny�s mother�s infidelity get less attention and feel somehow gratuitous. (Fiction. YA)

Product Details

Roaring Brook Press
Publication date:
Lerner Single Titles Series
Edition description:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.68(h) x 0.76(d)
Age Range:
12 - 17 Years

Meet the Author

Jon Ripslinger, a former high school English teacher and sports writer, lives in Davenport, Iowa.

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5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Have u ever read a book and completly forget what u have just read? Well I have many times soo then i looked for a book that would interest me in the best possible way.So if you are intersest in sports or if you wish to be you should read How I Fell In L ove And Learned To Shoot Free Throws,this book is about two young teenagers in high school there names are Angel McPherson,and Danny Henderson and Angel is on the school basketball team and is very good at basketball.Danny is on the boys team but there recored isnt very good.Both seasons end and Danny would lik to learn to shoot free throws and Angel has offerded to teach him, he agrees they tend to get close to each other but sherefuses shehas a secret that she says she will never revel he fears that he will never get to be with her beacuse of this secret. So i think you should read this book its a very interesting and fun book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
How I Fell in Love and Learned to Shoot Free Throws is a great book for young and older teens. This is a novel i could read over and over again (and I have!) The book says never keep a secret from the one you love because he/she will love you anyway, if they dont, they weren't worth it.