Can Andy live up to his brother's basketball legacy? When Andy Soaring's older brother, Pete, died in World War I, Andy's life changed forever. Now, five years later, Andy is fourteen and beginning to feel the weight of his brother's legacy, especially when he holds Pete's basketball in his hands. Andy dreams of leading his high-school team to the Indiana state tournament, as his brother did before him. If only Andy could be a basketball star, maybe he could ease his parents' sadness, and, more important, ...
Can Andy live up to his brother's basketball legacy? When Andy Soaring's older brother, Pete, died in World War I, Andy's life changed forever. Now, five years later, Andy is fourteen and beginning to feel the weight of his brother's legacy, especially when he holds Pete's basketball in his hands. Andy dreams of leading his high-school team to the Indiana state tournament, as his brother did before him. If only Andy could be a basketball star, maybe he could ease his parents' sadness, and, more important, feel like he truly belongs to his family. But when Andy lets pride get in the way--over a girl, no less--all bets are off.
Set against the backdrop of Prohibition, this stunning novel tells of one boy's search for answers--and the perfect free throw.
Andy Soaring is a high school freshman in 1920s rural Indiana, and like many in his state, is a basketball fanatic. Since his brother Pete died in World War I, Andy has looked forward to taking Pete's place on the high school team and leading the team to the state championship. But this story is not a fairy tale where dreams come true. Andy's jealousy of other players, his prejudice against a new student, and rumors about his beloved brother all conspire to bring out the worst in him, both as a player and as a reporter for his town's small paper. Eventually everything works out, but even though Andy is a well-developed character, he just is not fun to read about, and the setting gets lost in Andy's story. Collier's author's note makes it clear that she is fascinated with her setting of rural Indiana limestone country in the 1920s. She points out many historical details that the reader might have missed while caught up in Andy's tale, including the spread of electricity. She also provides the original rules of basketball and an analysis of how they evolved to today's game. Unfortunately-at least for this reader-the note was a more compelling read than the novel. Unless your teens are curious about the era or love basketball, pass on this purchase.
- Myrna Marler
Back in the days when basketball was young, before every high school had a team, before professional sports had turned the game into big-time athletics, the small towns of Indiana were its nurturing grounds. This novel uses that backdrop, the early 1920s, the changes coming to rural America, Prohibition, the recently ended War to End All Wars, small town politics, traveling carnivals, and boyish hijinks, to frame its sports story. Fourteen-year-old Andy Soaring, one of two surviving siblings of an older brother who died in WW I, desires above all else to bring the light back to his father's eyes by excelling, as his brother did, at high school basketball. He is bedeviled in his attempts by a heavy load of farm chores, poverty, a prissy older brother, a charismatic rival for the attention of the girl of his dreams, corrupt politicians, and a friend who could well be classified as a Bad Influence, except he turns out all right in the end. Over the course of a tumultuous basketball season, beset by losses yet encouraged by small victories, Andy matures from a somewhat flawed protagonist to a more mature, generous hero. Young boys will read this for the sports showdowns and adults will smile because also included, free of charge, is a generous helping of American history.
- Jay Wise
It is 1923, and Andy Soaring is about to begin his freshman year of high school in Pierre, Indiana. Five years earlier, Andy's brother, Pete, died during a World War I flu outbreak, devastating the family. Each year, on the anniversary of Pete's death, Andy, his brother George, and their parents eat Pete's favorite meal. Andy struggles to understand why Pete left home and the farm before graduating from high school, giving up his spot on the basketball team and missing a sure shot at the state tournament. Andy idolizes Pete, dreams of leading the team to the state championship, and practices his shot any time he can, using stones to save wear on Pete's leather basketball. He yearns for his Dad to laugh and his mother to gossip again, but times are tough for the family. The corn crop is iffy, a mystery surrounds Andy's parents' marriage, and the farm's mortgage note is coming due. Predictably Andy makes the team and becomes a dependable scorer, but when he breaks his arm trying to impress a girl, the team's season is in doubt. Filled with period language, this gentle, lyrical book reflects Indiana's passion for basketball. Vivid descriptions convey the novelty of the telephone, Fels Naptha soap, hand cranking Model T Fords, and budding romance in short chapters perfect for male reluctant readers. Both historical fiction and sports readers will enjoy Andy's credible first-person narration in this page-turning read.
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9-It is Indiana in the 1920s-Prohibition is in effect and basketball is the sport to watch. Andy Soaring, 14, has spent the last five years observing his parents grieve for his brother, Pete, who died in World War I. Pete was a star basketball player, and Andy has been obsessively practicing so that he can step into his brother's shoes in order to bring some joy back into his family. Bennie Esposito, the child of carnies and suspected bootleggers, is a new freshman and also a brilliant basketball player. Andy recognizes Bennie as a kindred spirit. However, his resentment of Bennie for winning over the girl he secretly desires keeps them from completely becoming friends. As the result of a single foolish act meant to attract AnnaLise's attention, Andy is sidelined for half of the basketball season. As he waits to play again, he is introduced to journalism and discovers some truths about his family and the people in his town. Although there are moments when true personality emerges, the characters are sporadically developed, leaving great emotional potential unrealized. An underlying story about Andy's parents' rushed marriage corresponds with the possible reason for Pete's sudden departure for the war. However, this thread is not completely resolved even though it drives much of the emotional content. This novel has potential, but sadly delivers only a fraction of what is promised, and the end result is rather unremarkable.-Heather M. Campbell, Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Pete, Andy's eldest brother, died just as WWI ended, and the family hasn't recovered. It's 1923 and 14-year-old Andy is sure that if he can lead the basketball team to the championship, everything will return to normal. He's beginning to realize that his mischievous friend Ham's sister, Anna Lise, is more than just a little girl, but he has a rival for her affections and his spot on the basketball team in Bennie, a kid from the carnival. Over the course of the basketball season, Andy discovers bootleggers, a dark family secret and a talent for journalism. He also finds that, though gone, Pete will always be present. The many threads here knit together nicely, though several points are only subtly made. There's no great action but plenty of drama. Literary sports fans will be right at home. (Fiction. 10-14)