5-Star Book Reviews: Sports

We continue our series of posts featuring some of the best books in the CA Library collection — today’s featured titles are all about Sports. Follow the links for each book to learn more from the CA Library catalog!

If an eBook and/or audiobook is available, links are also provided (Sora login is required).

After The Shot Drops by Randy Ribay — Told from alternating perspectives, Bunny takes a basketball scholarship to an elite private school to help his family, leaving behind Nasir, his best friend, in their tough Philadelphia neighborhood. “Without a doubt, Ribay’s compelling book belongs on the shelf alongside contemporary heavy-hitters like Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give, Brendan Kiely and Jason Reynolds’s All-American Boys, and Nic Stone’s Dear Martin” (School Library Journal starred review). Borrow the eBook | Borrow the Audiobook

Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On And Off The Court by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — An autobiography about Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and his life growing up in New York, becoming the basketball star he’s known to be, and getting involved in the world around him as an activist for social change. “A coming-of-age story that focuses entirely on Abdul-Jabbar’s childhood and young adulthood and demonstrates how this foundation would lead to his becoming one of the most successful and famous basketball players of all time” (Booklist starred review).

Break The Fall by Jennifer Iacopelli — A year after being nearly paralyzed, Audrey Lee is going to the Olympics but the United States’ gymnastics team is on the verge of collapse and Leo, her new coach’s cute son, is another distraction. “Detailed descriptions of training sessions and step-by-step accounts of gymnastics routines combine with #MeToo considerations and dramatic friendship shifts to create a fraught behind-the-scenes look at the lives of young Olympic hopefuls” (Publishers Weekly).

Cracking The Bell by Geoff Herbach — Isaiah loves football. In fact, football saved Isaiah’s life, giving him structure and discipline after his sister’s death tore his family apart. But when Isaiah gets knocked out cold on the field, he learns there’s a lot more to lose than football. “Along with tackling the deadly hazards of concussions, this novel offers a bulletin to readers facing life-altering changes, telling them that they might not have to go through them alone” (Kirkus Reviews). Borrow the eBook | Borrow the Audiobook

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang — In his latest graphic novel, Gene Luen Yang turns the spotlight on his life, his family, and the high school where he teaches. The men’s varsity basketball team at Bishop O’Dowd High School, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships. “Using a candid narrative and signature illustrations that effectively and dynamically bring the fast-paced games to life, Yang has crafted a triumphant, telescopic graphic memoir that explores the effects of legacy and the power of taking a single first step, no matter the outcome” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

Furia by Yamile Saied Méndez — Seventeen-year-old Camila Hassan, a rising soccer star in Rosario, Argentina, dreams of playing professionally, in defiance of her father’s wishes and at the risk of her budding romance with Diego. “A passion for sports and personal growth intersect in Camila’s powerful, feminist first-person narrative about her experiences as an ambitious athlete, a teenager deeply in love, the daughter of an abusive father at the point of taking charge of her own life, and a young woman finding her voice in a deeply sexist, patriarchal society” (Kirkus starred review). Borrow the eBook | Borrow the Audiobook

Golden Arm by Carl Deuker — Lazarus Weathers, a high school senior from the wrong side of the tracks, seeks to protect his half-brother while pitching his way out of poverty, one strike at a time. “With short, fast-paced chapters, Deuker’s realistic novel pits poverty, friendship, teamwork, self-reliance, and supportive adults against wealth, privilege, overambition, and overbearing helicopter parents” (Booklist starred review).

Gravity by Sarah Deming — Sixteen-year-old Gravity Delgado has been breaking records and competitors since she started boxing with a legendary coach at age twelve, and now will reach the Olympics if her home life and romance do not distract her. “Supported by realistic dialogue and a fully developed cast of secondary characters, Gravity is an honest, one-in-a-million main character with a heart of gold who readers will be rooting for from page one” (School Library Journal starred review).

Gut Check by Eric Kester — When star quarterback Brett suffers a terrible concussion, his brother Wyatt must decide if keeping his brother’s secret is worth the risk to their relationship and their town’s economic future. “Buoyed by self-deprecating wit and rare insight, Wyatt endures the humiliations of fat shaming, taunting, bullying, and being the odd man out in a family of three males. A winner” (Kirkus starred review).

Out Of Nowhere by Maria Padian — Performing community service for pulling a stupid prank against a rival high school, soccer star Tom tutors a Somali refugee with soccer dreams of his own. “Soccer is certainly an element, with a fair amount of play-by-play action (and standard locker-room language), but the novel is rich and multidimensional, addressing the Muslim experience in America, addiction, and romance” (School Library Journal starred review).

Pinned by Sharon Flake — Autumn, who struggles with a learning disability and exceeds at wrestling, and Adonis, who is confined to a wheelchair and loves books, learn how their weaknesses can become assets. “The unflinching honesty with which Flake approaches her characters is what sells this story; the romantic tension and fiery back-and-forth between these headstrong teens and their respective efforts to make the most of their lives, only sweeten the deal” (Publishers Weekly starred review).

Stand Off by Andrew Smith — Sequel to Winger (2013). Now a senior at Pine Mountain Academy, fifteen-year-old Ryan Dean West becomes captain of the rugby team, shares his dormitory room with a twelve-year-old prodigy, Sam Abernathy, and through the course of the year learns to appreciate things he has tried to resist, including change. “The novel succeeds not only as an emotionally satisfying sequel but as a hopeful, honest account of coping with a devastating loss” (School Library Journal starred review).

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