"Deuker adds further luster to his reputation for top-flight sportswriting matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories." —Kirkus Reviews
To quote from the review of the hardcover edition in KLIATT, March 2000: A novel about high school basketballwhite, 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 Americanbut 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: JSRecommended 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.
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 teamalong 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)
Read an Excerpt
"In the pale moonlight the basket seemed only half real, half there. You'd think that the darkness would make it hard to shoot, but it actually helped to make me concentrate. There was nothing else to see, nothing else to hear. O'Leary wasn't shouting instructions at me; my dad wasn't scrutinizing my every move. There was just the basket in front of me, the ball in my hands, and Trent defending."