Game by Walter Dean Myers ISBN: 9780060582944
Plot Summary: Drew lives in Harlem, and walks past all the washed out people in his neighborhood every morning on the way to school. He may not be a straight-A student, but he knows he could go pro in basketball if he gets enough attention from college scouts this year. But there are two new white guys on the team, and the coaches seem to be focusing much more on them than anyone else. When it starts to negatively affect the game, Drew decides to take things into his own hands. But then he gets pulled out of the game. This was not the season he had planned.
Critical Evaluation: The plot of this book is firmly centered on basketball. Most of the book takes place on the basketball court, or with Drew’s friends involved in basketball. There are brief interludes with his family, like when his father talks about joining a gym, or when Drew and his friend Ruffy go out with Ruffy’s brother, that don’t relate back to basketball. Drew’s sister, Jocelyn is the most fully developed person who is not on the basketball team, and she gets that way as the pesky sister stereotype we all know. But that does help to focus the book. I’d think that if Myers tried to spread the plot out to other aspects of Drew’s life, it would be difficult to get enough information about each. As it is, we see that basketball is the most important part of Drew’s life, and it influences everything else about him.
My biggest hurdle in reading this book was the language. That could be the reason I don’t read many sports books. I could barely grasp at what different basketball terminology and slang meant, and had trouble differentiating between basketball slang and normal street slang. But that seems to be more my issue than the authors. Like an adult who no longer knows what “all the cool kids are saying,” I did once find myself asking whether kids really say stuff like “goofing up” or “my game is money.” The book was published in 2008 so there is a possibility that some of the slang here has gone out of style, but I’m not really in a position to know. On the other hand, most of the book takes place in school or at Drew’s house, so the language is clean and there is no violence. This makes it a good book to give to teens whose parents might be sensitive about that.
Reader’s Annotation: While all the young black men in the neighborhood seem to have given up, Drew knows he can be an NBA star if he just gets the chance. But basketball is a team sport, and some new players on the team have changed the whole game.
Information about the author: Walter Dean Myers was born on August 12, 1937 in Martinsburg, West Virginia. He received his bachelor’s degree from Empire State College. For three years he led a writing workshop for children at a school in Jersey City, New Jersey.
He currently lives in Jersey City, New Jersey with his wife. He has three grown children. His books have won numerous awards and he was given the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement in literature. Besides writing, he travels to schools to speak to children, teachers, librarians, and parents. He also contributes to educational and literary publications.
Genre: Sports, Urban Fiction
Curriculum ties, if any: None in particular.
Booktalking Ideas: I would emphasize the sports, which is the main theme of this book, but I think the way Drew and his sister Jocelyn talk to each other is also funny, so I might mention that as well.
Reading Level/Interest Age: The main character is a senior in high school, and the sections about applying to schools will make the most sense to older readers. As mentioned earlier, there isn’t really any violence or coarse language, so it is appropriate for younger readers as well. School Library Journal suggests this book for grades 9 and up.
Challenge Issues: None.
Why did you include this book? : I wanted to include a more contemporary sports novel, and read something by Walter Dean Myers because he is a YA standby.
Walter Dean Myers author page (2013). Goodreads. Retrieved from http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/13291.Walter_Dean_Myers