Gr 6-8-A story about forgiveness, friendship, and accepting people as they are. Hank, Jerome, and Sarah move from Los Angeles to Alamar, CA, with their father after their mother, a nationally known tennis coach, decides to put her career before her family. Hank, 14, is befriended by the nerd next door, and, despite the threat of social suicide, he and Tremont become friends. When Jerome, a nationally ranked tennis player, gives up the game and his chance of a scholarship to get back at his mother, Hank keeps pestering him to get ready for the Pacific Palisades Country Club singles and doubles tournament, and Jerry finally picks up his racket again. In order to practice, they must beat the school jocks in a match to use the courts, resulting in a hilarious scene in which the two brothers annihilate their opponents. Hank's freshman year proves to be one of great growth and understanding of relationships. His family, though separated by divorce, is still bonded together by love for one another and the friendship between Hank's parents.-Angela M. Ottman, Merton Williams' Middle School, Hilton, NY Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
For sports and humor fans, this fast-paced romp through the ninth grade focuses on a boy trying to cope with his parents' divorce. Hank, his siblings, and their father have moved to a tiny California coastal town after his parents' separation. All are passionate tennis players. The long absences of Hank's mother, a professional coach to star athletes, have destroyed the marriage, but the devastated Hank can't stop scheming to bring his parents back together. Meanwhile, he covers his pain with humor and reluctantly befriends Tremont, his geeky next-door neighbor. Seeing the impossibility of avoiding Tremont, he induces the boy to lose weight and become more popular by defying their strict algebra teacher. Star student Tremont takes Hank under his wing academically and both make great strides toward success. Dramatic conflict continues as older brother Jerome, expected to become a high-earning professional tennis player, abandons the game. Hank virtually forces his brother to resume playing, but loses heart himself with the failure of his schemes to reunite his parents. The story veers from realism by making Hank and Jerome superstar jocks and by an all-too-easily won battle over the math teacher, but the constant humor in Hank's voice saves the effort from complete fantasy. While Hank sounds a bit too mature for a 14-year-old, nevertheless the story moves along at a zippy pace and should keep young readers interested with its upbeat outlook and happy ending. (Fiction. 12-16)