Age Range
Release Date
July 31, 2018
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Ever since T’Shawn’s dad died, his mother has been struggling to keep the family afloat. So when he’s offered a spot on a prestigious diving team at the local private swim club, he knows that joining would only add another bill to the pile.

But T studies hard and never gets into trouble, so he thinks his mom might be willing to bear the cost… until he finds out that his older brother, Lamont, is getting released early from prison.

Luckily, T’Shawn is given a scholarship, and he can put all his frustration into diving practices. But when criminal activity increases in the neighborhood and people begin to suspect Lamont, T’Shawn begins to worry that maybe his brother hasn’t left his criminal past behind after all.

And he struggles to hold on to the hope that they can put the broken pieces of their damaged relationship back together.

Editor review

1 review
Competitive Swimming in the Inner City
Overall rating
Plot/Characters/Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
T'Shawn's family is struggling to make it in a economically challenged neighborhood in Chicago. His mother is working, but his father died of cancer, and the family is still struggling with the bills. To make matters worse, his brother Lamont has spent the last two years in jail for robbing a local restaurant and beating up the owner. T'Shawn has a good friend in Dontae, but an uneasy relationship with schoolmate Carmela, whose father is a police officer. When Lamont comes home, T'Shawn is angry, and the close knot community is upset. T'Shawn takes some refuge in starting on a diving team run by one of his teachers, Mr. Hundle, who has secured a scholarship to the elite club. It's a different world, and fellow swimmer Sammy has very overbearing parents. Lamont isn't exactly a problem at home, and even helps with younger sister Rochelle, but he makes everyone uneasy. Several incidents put Lamont in a bad light, and the neighborhood even puts together a petition for his ouster from the community. T'Shawn is okay with this until he finds out some more information about Lamont's progress.
Good Points
This was a positive look at a close knit community that is facing challenges. T'Shawn's family and neighbors watch out for each other, there is a strong church base, and children are interested in education and are well disciplined. There are not many books that show this kind of community, so it was good to see. There are realistic struggles to be faced, but there is a lot of constructive interaction, even when Dontae, T'Shawn and Carmela have a very unpleasant run in with the police. The swim and dive team is interesting, and the racism that T'Shawn has to face is sad but realistic. There's a lot going on (there are also subplots with the homeless shelter at which the family lived, and with Sammy and his pushy parents), but everything is clear and easy to understand.

Sports books are always popular with middle grade readers, and there aren't many on the topic of competitive swimming and diving. This is a great addition if you have a local swim team.

This is a novel that is timely and important. Many of my students love to read about gangs and what they perceive to be life in "ghetto" areas (their words, not mine). This is less heavy than something like Parker Rhodes' Ghost Boys, or Booth's Kinda Like Brothers but still addresses issues of current relevance.
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