Fast Break

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4.7
 
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Fast Break
Author(s)
Publisher
Age Range
12+
Release Date
November 03, 2015
ISBN
9780399256066
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Forced to live on his own after his mom dies and her boyfriend abandons him, 12-year-old Jayson does whatever it takes to get by. He will do anything to avoid the foster care system. Besides, his real home has always been the beat-up basketball court behind the projects in the North Carolina hills, and his family has always been his friends and teammates. He manages to get away with his deception until the day he gets caught stealing a new pair of basketball sneakers. Game over. Within a day a social worker places him with a family from the other side of town, the Lawtons. New home, new school, new teammates. Jayson, at first, is combatative, testing the Lawtons' patience at every turn. He wants out, yet the Lawtons refuse to take the bait. But not everyone in Jayson's new life is so ready to trust him--and even Jayson's old friends give him a hard time now that he's attending a school full of rich kids. It's on Jayson to believe that he deserves a better life than the one he once had. The ultimate prize if he can? A trip to play in the state finals at Cameron Indoor Stadium–home to the Duke Blue Devils and launching pad to his dream of playing bigtime college ball. Getting there will be a journey that reaches far beyond the basketball court. In the tradition of uplifting stories like The Blind Side, Fast Break has all the family-friendly sports action Mike Lupica has become known and loved for.

Editor reviews

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Fast Break is a Fast Read
Overall rating 
 
4.7
Plot 
 
4.0
Characters 
 
5.0
Writing Style 
 
5.0
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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