cover image The Whole Sky Full of Stars

The Whole Sky Full of Stars

Rene Saldana, Jr., Author Wendy Lamb Books $15.99 (131p) ISBN 978-0-385-73053-2

In over his head with a gambling debt, high-school senior Alby needs to come up with some cash fast. He believes that the only solution is to place another bet. If he can persuade his best friend, Barry, a trained boxer, to enter a local fighting match, Alby stands a chance of winning plenty of money making side bets, or so he thinks. At the beginning of Saldana's (The Jumping Tree) moralistic tale, it is fairly obvious that Alby is destined to learn a hard lesson (that gambling doesn't pay). But readers-especially boxing enthusiasts-will keep turning pages to see just how far the young protagonist will go before he realizes that friendship is more important than winnings. Despite the fact he is an excellent boxer, Barry is reluctant to enter the ""Man o' Might"" competition, but pushed by Alby and knowing how much his recently widowed mother would appreciate the prize money, he hesitantly agrees. Alby's selfish motives and Barry's more virtuous ones clash during the novel's climax, and both teens suffer emotional blows by the time the match is over. While the author's hand is perhaps too apparent, guiding the actions and fates of his characters, his novel challenges traditional notions of what it means to be a winner. Those, like Alby, who are enticed by the glitz and glamour of high-stakes betting, may perceive the world of gambling differently after reading this book. Ages 12-up.