Review Detail

Young Adult Fiction 5066
Fast Break is a Fast Read
Overall rating
Writing Style
Jayson's mother dies of drug related problems and her boyfriend pays the rent for two months and then takes off. Jayson is left in the apartment by himself and survives by stealing food and making sure he does well enough in school that teachers don't pry. When he needs new shoes for basketball, he takes a bus to a neighboring town so he can steal a pair unnoticed, but is caught and remanded to children's services. They place him with an African-American couple, the Lawtons, who have a grown son, and they are very understanding of his various plights. Jayson doesn't care, though. He hates his new school, where they have to wear khakis and polos, and while he doesn't act out terribly, he is not nice to be around, either. He is angry on the basketball court, and finds it hard to make friends. He goes back to his old neighborhood a couple of times on unathorized visits, but the Lawtons merely bring him back. His biggest upset is hearing the mother of the girl he likes discussing his background, and how he must be horrible because his mother died from drugs.
Good Points
Sports books should have plenty of descriptions of the on-the-court action, and Lupica never disappoints. There is a fair amount of basketball, and some interesting times when Jayson is playing against his former teammates. No matter how difficult Jayson's life gets, he has a refuge in basketball.

This was a nicely diverse book, and it was interesting that the African-American family is the college educated care providers, and Jayson is white. It's difficult to find books where the African-American characters are upper middle class, and my students will be very glad to see themselves reflected in this book.

Readers whose lives might not be as difficult as Jayson's will have a little more sympathy for him once they know more details of how little his mother took care of him, and how difficult it was for him to survive alone. There are a lot of sports novels that address deeper issues, and Fast Break holds its own with titles like Deuker's Heart of a Champion or Green's Unstoppable.
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