cover image Streetball Is Life

Streetball Is Life

Paul Volponi. Rowman & Littlefield, $28 (204p) ISBN 978-1-5381-3927-1

The summer after he graduates from high school in the late 1970s, author Volponi cares about one thing: proving himself in the notoriously tough street basketball games that are a regular fixture in New York City parks. An only child of hardworking parents in Queens, Paulie forms a tight bond with four fellow streetballers whose backgrounds are as different as their on-court strengths. Together, they decide to test their collective mettle at the Proving Ground—a take-no-prisoners battleground for the most fearless ballers. Here, Paulie meets Pirate, a 40-something window-washer with a quick temper and an unparalleled knowledge of the game. Throughout the summer, Pirate and Volponi’s tough but talented teammates will test the teen’s dedication, courage, and talent. In writing that is more anecdotal than narrative, Volponi conveys a passion for basketball while sharing a bittersweet reminiscence of a pivotal summer. The on-court action is tendered with an almost awe-like respect for the game, the players, and the relentlessly fierce way they play. Sprinkled with quotes from basketball greats as well as reflective life lessons the author learned from playing, this informative memoir reveals the unrelenting world of streetball and the talented athletes who rule it. Ages 14–up. (Oct.)