Throwing Stones

Throwing Stones

5.0 1
by Kristi Collier

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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


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.

Editorial Reviews

VOYA - Beth Karpas
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.
KLIATT - 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.
VOYA - 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.
Kirkus Reviews
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)

Product Details

Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
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214 KB
Age Range:
9 - 14 Years

Read an Excerpt

Throwing Stones
Chapter One 
"You want to see a naked girl?""What?" I spun my head around so fast the muscle in my neck popped, sending shards of pain rocketing down my shooting arm. My best friend, Ham, smirked and sat against a boulder that flanked the edge of the abandoned quarry. He kicked his feet out in front of him and propped one bare foot on top of the other."I said ..." Ham paused, letting his words linger. He looked like he hadn't a care in the world, but he was sucking the life out of a blade of alfalfa grass. "Do you want to see a--""I heard you," I said quickly. A picture of Ham's younger sister, AnnaLise, popped into my mind. I wondered if she was the naked girl Ham was talking about. In his family, with five sisters running around, it was certainly a possibility. The thought made my stomach feel funny. I wiped the palms of my hands on my pants."Aw, you're full of baloney," I said. I rolled my shoulders and tried to ease out the cramp. The pain inched its way from one side of my neck to the other."Am not. I'm dead shooting serious." Ham spat the alfalfa grass to the ground, flipped to his feet, and crouched in front of me. I thought that if Ham could channel his maniac energy, he'd be a great guard for the basketball team. But Ham didn't care about things that had rules and organization."Naked girls. Hundreds of 'em. Well, at least a couple. And they take all their clothes off." Ham's voice rose to a squeak. He was standing now and pacing. I stood up. I was taller than Ham and bigger, but my energy was more contained. Deliberate, Ham would say. Wary.Ham leaned in close and whispered, "They're at the carnival. In a tent. A naked girl tent."I stepped back and stared at him. Part of me was relieved he wasn't talking about AnnaLise. But the other part ... I shook my head. "The carnival? You're crazy. We can't go to the carnival."Every year a group of roustabouts drifted into town with their tents and their freaks and their lures of easy prizes. They set up in a field north of town and took money from the scabblers coming from the quarries and the car blockers coming from the railroad. It sounded wonderful, but I was never allowed to go. Neither was Ham. I reminded him of that fact again. Ham only smiled."It's not like we're going to ask permission, Andy." Ham's eyes crinkled in that funny way he had when plotting mischief. "We'll sneak out, under cover of darkness."His voice rose dramatically, then he crouched low and took two steps forward. "We'll cut through the Oberstrong's pastures and come at the carnival from the back side. If my sources serve me well, the naked girls are located at the far right corner. We can peek under the tent, see the naked girls, and then bolt for home before anyone even notices that we're gone." He grinned."Boy, oh, boy, Ham. If we get caught ..." I let the awful idea hang in the air for a moment. "My parents would kill me. Yours, too."Ham shook his head. The look of deviousness on his face softened. "The Judge won't do anything."As strange as it sounded, I had to admit that Ham was right. Judge Mortimer was reputed to be the toughest judge in the county. Everybody knew it, from the stonecutters to the farmers to Willard Nevil, the town drunk. But no matter what kind of trouble Ham got himself into, the Judge never punished him. The Judge would stand, stern and unmoving, the anger and disappointment carved into his face. Sometimes he'd make Ham pay what he called restitution, but when it came right down to it, he never actually sentenced Ham to any kind of punishment. I often wondered if Ham got into trouble just to see if he could get a reaction out of his father. I wished my parents would let me get away with half the stuff the Judge let Ham get away with.Then Ham shook his head and the grin returned. "Felix, on the other hand, would have a fit." The idea seemed to strike Ham as funny. Felix was Ham's uncle, the Judge's brother. He was also the county sheriff, but we joked that he should have been born a preacher. He could talk ajaybird quiet. And boy did he rattle on about the Catholics brewing their illegal beer and the flappers with their short skirts. Most folks, my brother George included, took Sheriff Mortimer's words as gospel. But Ham, being Ham, thought his uncle was full of hot air."I don't know, Ham," I said.Ham must have taken my uncertainty as a yes. "I'll meet you behind your barn tonight at ten o'clock."I shook my head. "I can't. Tonight is Pete's birthday."Ham's face clouded. "Oh. Sorry. I forgot." Then he brightened. "Thursday, then. Same time.""But ..." I had to find some way out of this. "Won't your parents still be awake?" Everyone in my family woke with the sun to milk the cows, so we fell asleep early. But Ham's family sometimes stayed awake until midnight."Eleven o'clock, then. Bye!" Ham grinned and raced toward town.I picked up the stone I'd been carving and with my finger traced the lines I'd etched. It looked pretty good, I thought, almost like a real basketball. I stuck the carving in my pocket. I trudged past the boulders that littered the ground around the abandoned quarry, toward the house, the last place I wanted to be. Tonight was Pete's birthday. Ham had forgotten. I sighed. I could never forget. Some days I thought I was stuck at age eight, the day I discovered that Pete had run off to war. Or maybe age nine, the day I learned that he was never coming back.Copyright © 2006 by Kristi Collier

Meet the Author

Kristi Collier is the author of Jericho Walls. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

Kristi Collier is the author of Jericho Walls. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.

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Throwing Stones 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
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