cover image Slam!


Walter Dean Myers. Scholastic, $15.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-590-48667-5

A love of basketball isn't necessary to enjoy this gritty, feelingly told tale, but it would certainly help. Myers (The Glory Field) uses contemporary urban black locutions to relay his narrator's view of the mean streets of Harlem, as well as describe some heart-thumping hoop action in a novel that, like most good sports stories, is about more than just sports. ""I can hoop,"" says Slam. ""Case closed.... You can take my game to the bank and wait around for interest."" Grandiose fantasies of his future as a millionaire NBA star--or maybe a millionaire movie producer--are about all that he has on his mind, even though he is on his way to flunking out of the magnet high school he just transferred to, his grandmother is dying, his father is out of work and hitting the bottle again and his oldest friend appears to be dealing crack. Only when he is playing basketball does Slam know what moves to make and how to relate to the people around him. The rest of the time he stumbles, alienating his mother, girlfriend, teachers, even his coach and teammates. But, as the plain-speaking assistant coach tells him, ""Everybody is in the game off the court,"" and Slam finally realizes that it's his attitude, not other people, that holds him back. Enduring truths, winningly presented. Ages 12-up. (Nov.)