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The Squared Circle
     

The Squared Circle

by James W. Bennett
 

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Basketball, to Sonny Youngblood, is like breathing. In fact, Sonny is just the player SIU needed for an NCAA Championship bid. And he's met a lot of people along the way. Only now, it's all blurring together. Disturbing, long-repressed moments of Sonny's life are jolting into his memory. He wonders: Who is Sonny Youngblood, anyway? Just a basketball player, nothing

Overview

Basketball, to Sonny Youngblood, is like breathing. In fact, Sonny is just the player SIU needed for an NCAA Championship bid. And he's met a lot of people along the way. Only now, it's all blurring together. Disturbing, long-repressed moments of Sonny's life are jolting into his memory. He wonders: Who is Sonny Youngblood, anyway? Just a basketball player, nothing more? When he meets a woman from his past, he thinks he's found a way to escape the questions and memories that are tearing him apart ­ only to reclaim the person he once was, he'll have to destroy the player that he is.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
It helps to really like basketball in order to enjoy this novel to its fullest. Interwoven around gritty, occasionally brutish, guys-only scenes of fraternity hazing, basketball team practice and tension-filled games is an acutely perceptive account of a young man's emotional and intellectual awakening. Sonny Youngblood is a mediocre student whose whole life is basketball. Guided by his good ole boy uncle, Sonny wins a basketball scholarship to Southern Illinois University, where his athletic talents quickly win him national celebrity. But as the SIU team rises in the national standings, Sonny becomes increasingly uncomfortable as he finds himself under the scrutiny of not only the sports media but also NCAA investigators. He begins to be troubled by memories of his past and then, more worrisome, starts feeling sick during basketball games. Just as he comes to the fumbling realization that basketball may not be the only thing, he irrevocably takes his fate in his own hands. Bennett's (I Can Hear the Mourning Dove) sketches out the pivotal episodes in Sonny's coming of age, inviting the reader to piece them together rather than assembling them, Chris Crutcher-style, into a single bombshell. His startling ending is sure to leave his audience with plenty to talk about. Ages 14-up. (Nov.)
Publishers Weekly
After Sonny wins a basketball scholarship to college and his athletic talents win him national celebrity, he irrevocably takes his fate in his own hands in this "acutely perceptive account of a young man's emotional and intellectual awakening," wrote PW. Ages 14-up. (Feb.) n Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature - Rebecca Joseph
Sonny Youngblood is one of the best college basketball players in the country. In this exiting novel, Sonny learns that his love of playing is in sharp contrast to his uncle and school's goal of winning at all costs and his former girlfriend and cousin's hatred of school athletics. Sonny learns that his sense of himself has been compromised by the people around him. A dramatic climax leads to a surprising ending, which makes the reader question where does the athlete fit into college athletics.
The ALAN Review - James E. Davis
When college freshman Sonny Youngblood, who lives and breathes basketball, gets caught up in a college recruitment scandal, he is forced into the nightmare of an identity crisis. Painful memories, which could destroy the player he is, emerge when he reunites with a feminist cousin. Bennett uses real names and places (Southern Illinois University) but goes to great length to emphasize that the work is fiction. He does, however, capture the corruption of college athletics and the fraternity scene so well that the book sometimes reads like nonfiction. Strong plotting (with a shocker ending), clearly drawn characters, realistic setting, and finely-honed language will be appealing to readers. Although some readers may be offended by sexual content and the unusual cousin relationship, that should not keep them from reading this novel, which treats coming to terms with self in all of its complexity.
The ALAN Review - Alan M. McLeod
Sonny Youngblood seems to have it all - star status as a freshman on his college basketball team, fraternity involvement, and popularity. Yet he finds he must study hard to stay eligible, and so approaches his cousin, a member of the faculty, for assistance. She reluctantly agrees to an independent study in which he helps with her art project. Through Sissy he discovers means of coping with a variety of problems, including the recruiting scandal breaking around his team, and accompanying questions about the role his Uncle Seth played in Sonny's selection for a college athletic scholarship. The story moves along fairly quickly and is pitched at a high-school audience. Its focus on college basketball and the NCAA tournament should delight readers. A good novel for athletes and others who think that success in sports will solve most problems. Sonny's struggles carry an aura of reality.
KLIATT
Sonny Youngblood is a natural athlete. Basketball loves him and he loves it. When he leaves high school for college, he finds himself in a maze of academics, fraternities, and athletics—a very confusing scene. When a recruitment scandal threatens to turn up the heat and Sonny finds out the uncle he has always trusted may have taken money to get Sonny to go to his alma mater, Sonny's world is blown apart. Basketball fans will feel the excitement and pressure of the game and Sonny's character really comes alive. The pages will turn swiftly until the surprising conclusion. (An ALA Best Book for YAs.) KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 1995, Scholastic, 247p.,
— Barbara Jo McKee
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up-The seamier side of big-time college athletics and the painful maturation of a young man is portrayed through the experiences of Sonny Youngblood, high school All-American. As he enters Southern Illinois University on full scholarship, his sole focus is on basketball. His cousin Sissy is an art professor at SIU and becomes reacquainted with Sonny when she helps him get an independent credit he needs to stay eligible for the team. Though she is totally cynical toward the University's basketball program, a strong bond begins to form between them. While getting national publicity as one of the nation's top scoring freshman, Sonny is starting to see the bigger picture due to an NCAA investigation into SIU's basketball program and Sissy's perspective on the situation. After he works through a number of unresolved issues in his past, including confronting his uncle about receiving a large payoff for steering him to SIU, his life is forever altered by an accident that costs Sonny a major portion of his right hand. Bennett pulls no punches. His story is fictional, but his sobering indictment of Division One college athletics is right out of the daily sports pages. The language is rough, and the sexual innuendoes are raw but reflective. This is a sobering read that should be thrust into the hands of any high school students who are contemplating playing revenue-producing sports at major universities. Just hope they have the ability and time to read it.-Tom S. Hurlburt, La Crosse Public Library, WI

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780590486729
Publisher:
Scholastic, Inc.
Publication date:
02/01/1902
Edition description:
REPRINT
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.80(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range:
14 Years

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