Josh and Jordan are twins and both passionate about basketball; a passion inherited from their father who played professionally. But when Alexis arrives on the scene, their relationship starts to unravel.
The themes that run through this award winning novel will be familiar – sibling relationships, jealousy, anxieties, loss – here set against a slightly less familiar background, the basketball court. However, what makes this novel different is the voice. Told by Josh aka Filthy McNasty, it is written as a verse novel. This is a form that is making a comeback and superficially looks temptingly easy. I would suggest it is far from that and should not be tackled lightly. Here, it is handled with consummate ease. The rhythms match the bounce of the ball on the court, the speed of the player darting from one end to the other in a way that avoids lengthy and wordy description. Thoughts and dialogue have a directness that is instantly engaging. This is the strength of the verse novel; the stripped down narrative that makes for immediacy and vivid snapshots. The danger, that characterisation and depth of emotion get lost. This is not the case here. Both boys are very real schoolboys, their relationship with each other and their father completely believable and sympathetic. Though the setting and references may be less familiar – it is indeed an American book, and basketball is perhaps less well known in this country, this should be no barrier. The hip-hop beat of the writing draws the reader in. Films and television will inform young readers, while anyone with a passion will understand Josh and JB
Highly recommended – and not just for the sporty.