Night Hoops

Night Hoops

4.5 36
by Carl Deuker

View All Available Formats & Editions

Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have nothing in common but basketball. Or so it seems. But as the basketball season progresses, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined. In this story of an unlikely bond, award-winning author Carl Deuker explores that dark and confusing place between loneliness and friendship, between faithfulness and betrayal. Filled with gripping

See more details below


Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson have nothing in common but basketball. Or so it seems. But as the basketball season progresses, their lives become unexpectedly intertwined. In this story of an unlikely bond, award-winning author Carl Deuker explores that dark and confusing place between loneliness and friendship, between faithfulness and betrayal. Filled with gripping game play, the novel will leave readers wondering how much they themselves would reach out to a kid like Trent.

Editorial Reviews

To quote from the review of the hardcover edition in KLIATT, March 2000: A novel about high school basketball—white, suburban boys' basketball. Yes, this basketball does still exist, and yes, Deuker tells his story well. There are no swear words and these high school athletes do not discuss sex, but aside from that, the basketball scenes and the father-son relationships are believable. Most of the action is on a basketball court somewhere in the Northwest, in the high school gym or in the backyard. Deuker tells of two brothers, one interested in music, one consumed by basketball. Their father is all too believable as a grown-up determined to relive his own high school athletic experience in his sons. He is too critical, too wrapped up in himself and his own needs; the boys' mother gets sick of him and throws him out. Also, the boys have to deal with another set of brothers who live across the street, thugs who are violent bullies. A major theme of this book is how Nick, the narrator, gets involved with Trent across the street when Trent becomes a teammate on the varsity team. Athletes who read this book will recognize the changes that Nick goes through as he evolves from a person eager to establish himself as a varsity player to a person who understands how important it is for the athlete, especially the point guard, to be part of a team. Deuker doesn't completely ignore the racial realities in basketball. One of Nick's teammates is an African American—but at some point it is clear that this boy Luke is different from black inner-city players from the championship team. White people so rarely have a glimpse of what it is to be a minority in our society, so I liked the scene whenthe suburban team feels uncomfortable when they play at a high school that has mostly students of color. Night Hoops is better than most sports novels for YAs. (The cover art in this paperback edition is excellent.) Category: Paperback Fiction. KLIATT Codes: JS—Recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, HarperTrophy, 250p., Ages 13 to 18. Reviewer: Claire Rosser; KLIATT
Children's Literature - Children's Literature
Nick has the skills and determination to be the starting point guard for his high school basketball team, but does he have the savvy? Filled with riveting game scenes, this gripping novel details the drama of one basketball season. To succeed, Nick must learn how to play smart in a game where second chances are few. Trent, an overly aggressive teammate in trouble with the law, has the same lesson to learn about life. Deuker masterfully illustrates the mental game of basketball, particularly how pacing, momentum, and teamwork depend on a point guard who understands himself and his players--both on and off the court. The action scenes and game-sense will draw sports fans to this book, but concern for Nick as he struggles with the demands of a broken family and troubled friendships, proves equally engaging. Numerous well-defined characters enhance rather than crowd the plot by appearing only as their presence impacts Nick. The complexities of basketball and life provide first-rate, but never preachy, entertainment. Even reader expectations of a "winning" sports ending will remain nail-bitingly unpredictable. 2000, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 12 up, $15.00. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
VOYA - Voya Reviews
No one would expect Nick Abbott to befriend Trent Dawson. An outsider and misfit, Trent and his family are not the kind of neighbors one would want living across the street, let alone hanging around the house shooting baskets. Trent is on welfare with no father in sight, his older brother is always in trouble with the law, his mother parties long and hard, and his house and yard have fallen to ruin. Yet on Nick's backyard court, the boys find a common thread that weaves their lives together--their skills and love of the game make them an unbeatable pair. When both earn spots on the varsity team, the court becomes their whole world and every play is from the heart. Deuker, award-winning author of young adult sports stories, including On the Devil's Court (Little, Brown, 1989/VOYA April 1989), Painting the Black (Houghton Mifflin, 1997/VOYA August 1997), and Heart of a Champion (Little, Brown, 1993/VOYA June 1993), again has written a fast-paced novel that will appeal to the teen reader--even those not interested in the game of basketball. The issues of teens painfully adjusting to the separation of parents, maturely accepting punishment for bad decisions, defending someone against all others' accusations, and realizing the importance of commitment to a team are addressed. As deftly as Nick and Trent move the ball around the court, they reveal more than just the desire to win a game. When faced with unfavorable odds in the game of life, one person can make a difference. As Nick learned, "When you know somebody, everything changes." Establishing a rewarding friendship is not limited by superficial boundaries. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broadgeneral YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2000, Houghton Mifflin, Ages 12 to 18, 256p, $15. Reviewer: Cheryl Karp Ward
School Library Journal
Gr 8-10-Nick Abbott finds himself trying to deal with his parent's divorce and a host of other problems that face him during his sophomore year. He wants above all else to be a star player on his high school basketball team. As the story progresses, Nick learns how to control the tempo of a game as a point guard, and he also begins to reach a greater maturity in his life. Central to the story is his relationship with his disturbed and angry teammate and neighbor, Trent Dawson. The young men form an uneasy bond as they quietly practice each night on Nick's backyard court. Eventually, they become a dominating duo on the court, with Trent's aggressiveness complemented by Nick's feel for the game. This is an excellent novel. Nick's first-person narration is authentic throughout. The author perfectly captures the swirl of ideas in the adolescent mind. The descriptions of the games are well written and accurate. Best of all, the complexities of basketball are contrasted with the complexities of life. Nick learns how important it is to make adjustments during the course of a game, and he learns that adjustments are also important in life. This message is imparted subtly, though. Deuker delivers a story that features rounded characters dealing with real problems, set against the backdrop of a varsity basketball season.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
New York Times Book Review
The Abbotts and the Dawsons live across the street from each other, and both Nick Abbott and Trent Dawson play basketball. That's all they seem to have in common. But nothing is as it seems, except the actual basketball games. A taut psychological novel.
Kirkus Reviews
Deuker (Painting the Black, 1997) weaves wide bands of fast-break, pulse-pounding basketball action into this piercing exploration of family loyalties and parental failure. Prepared by years of practice, Nick marches triumphantly into high school, through basketball tryouts and onto the team—along with, to his disgust and amazement, despised Trent Dawson, a vicious ne'er-do-well neighbor who has never seemed more than a smaller version of his very bad-news big brother, Zack. But Trent can play, with the same intensity that Nick finds in himself. On the boards, Trent shows signs of wanting to turn his life around, and there, Nick can also escape both the pain of his parents' divorce and the influence of his bullying, manipulative father. In the end, the two lead their team into a district championship despite a two-and-five start and, in a climax that will have even readers not up on b-ball jargon riveted, a 19-point deficit in the fourth quarter of the final game. It's only the beginning for Nick, but the triumph is bittersweet for Trent, who turns his back on the fragile stability he's achieved to follow his brother, now a wanted felon, into hiding. Expertly juggling a sackful of subplots, Deuker gives his characters understandable (if not always defensible) motives, and role models whose strengths and flaws are laid out with painful precision. Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sportswriting matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories. (Fiction. 11-15)

From the Publisher

"Once again Deuker strikes a happy balance between issues and action, examining topics such as parental pressure and the edgy realtionship between play makers and their less gifted teammates while transporting his readers right into the bleachers with vivid play-by-plays." —Bulletin

* "The author perfectly captures the swirl of ideas in the adolescent mind. . . . Deuker delivers a story that features rounded characters dealing with real problems, set against the backdrop of a varsity basketball season. . . .This is an excellent novel."—SLJ, starred review

"Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sportswriting matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories." —Kirkus Reviews

Read More

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
4.18(w) x 6.75(h) x 0.64(d)
Age Range:
13 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Against the fast break, you have to stop the ball. That's rule number one, even if it's Trent Dawson, eyes wild, who's barreling down the lane at you, and even if it's just a summer pick-up game. You've still got to suck it up and do it. So I challenged him, holding my position, feet set.

With the advantage in numbers he had, a simple bounce pass would have given one of his teammates the easy two points. Trent knew that, because he was a player. Or he could have been a player, if he ever played right. But Trent Dawson never did anything right.

Instead of passing off, he crashed right into me, planting his knee into my chest. I toppled backwards, and he came down hard on top of me. My head smacked the asphalt just as the ball rolled in. "That was a charge," I yelled, still pinned under him. "The basket doesn't count."

His hand came right back to my face, his fingers squeezing my cheeks and almost gouging my eyes. "No way, Abbott. No way."

Every guy on the court knew he was cheating, but nobody backed me. I can't blame them, because the one thing worse than having Trent Dawson squeeze your face would be to have him pound it to a bloody pulp. And he'd do it, too. He'd do it and he'd enjoy it.

"Take the points," I sputtered, pushing his hand away, "but you fouled me and you know it."

He grinned as he climbed off me. It was his way of letting me know that he did know it.

The game ended in a typical Dawson way. We were playing to twenty. My team had the ball with the score tied at eighteen when Trent's older brother Zack showed up. Trent is bad news, but Zack is worse, both meaner and crazier. Word is that he hasa gun that he stole from one of his mother's many, many boyfriends.

"Hey, Trent. Let's go," he shouted from across the court.

Immediately, without so much as a "Good game" or a "See you later," Trent was gone, leaving the rest of us with sweat dripping down our faces and backs, our mouths hanging open. "What a total jerk," one of the guys said, but not until Trent was out of earshot.

The joke is that last year, when Trent first moved into the rental house across the street from us, I was keyed up about it. A guy my age, who looked pretty athletic — it was perfect. Dad knew, though. He never liked the Dawsons. "Freeloaders" is what he called them, because they were on welfare. "There'll be trouble. Mark my words."

Mom, who is a nurse at the county hospital and sees a lot of poor people, defended them. "Not having money doesn't make you a criminal."

Dad grinned. "Just wait. In six months you'll be singing a different tune."

Normally Mom isn't all that outgoing, but she made a point of welcoming Ericka Dawson to the neighborhood, calling out "hello" to her in the morning and encouraging me to do stuff with Trent.

But Dad turned out to be right. On our block everybody mows the lawn, plants flowers, and picks up stray bits of trash. People wave to their neighbors, keep their music down, and drive slowly, at least until they hit the main streets.

It didn't take long to see that Ericka Dawson was different. She let the lawn and flower beds go. Her front porch became a garbage heap, and if anything broke, it stayed broken. She had people over all the time, and they partied late and loud. Strange cars and motorcycles were always roaring up and down our block.

When the Dawsons moved in, the inside of the house had been clean and neat. Within three months the place was a total dump, and I mean total. I still remember the first time I was inside that house. Trent had me over to play pool on what turned out to be an undersized table, really just a toy, that one of his mother's boyfriends had given him.

The pool table was upstairs in his room. To reach it, we had to walk through the house. Newspapers, empty pizza boxes, and beer bottles were strewn around the living room floor and on the sofa. Cigarette butts spilled out of cups and off plates onto the tables and carpet. Plates crusty with dried food sat on top of the television set, which was on, the volume full blast. "What are you looking at?" Trent said when he caught me staring.

I was glad to make it to his room, but five minutes later his mother came upstairs. "Go home," she ordered, just like that, no explanation at all. I stood for a second, stunned. "You want me to draw you a picture?" she snapped. "Go home."

As I left I spotted a policeman standing in the kitchen, and the next day Dad found out that Zack had been caught stealing beer at Albertson's.

That was when Mom gave me the word: "Nick, stay out of that house. If Trent invites you over, you make some excuse. You understand?" Dad didn't have to say anything. His smile said it all.

Night Hoops. Copyright © by Carl Deuker. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >