Friday, May 29, 2009

Box Out by John Coy

I decided it's Boy Week on my blog! All my reviews this week have been about boys. I really like reading YA books with male protagonists because I find them really interesting and my WIP has a male protag. So I need some perspective. Especially from male authors because they are closer to the source than I am. I like boys!

Box Out by John Coy


Liam Bergstorm knows he hit the big time when he gets moved up to the varsity basketball team. As a sophomore he is awed by this opportunity and willing to work hard in order to increase his playing time. He quickly finds that there is more to being on the team than playing ball well. Coach Kloss expects the team to pray in the locker room and go to fellowship meetings before school. At first, Liam tries to shrug it off but the more he learns about what's going on the more he questions whether or not Coach Kloss is right.

This book didn't immediately grab me. After the first couple of chapters I considered putting it down but something made me keep going and I'm glad I did. The story is important. I did enjoy seeing Liam evolve from Bergie on varsity into his own version of Liam Bergstrom. John Coy tackles a variety of important issues. There's the separation of church and state, teen challenging adult authority, racial issues, what it means to be a real team, small town politics, change vs. the way it's always been and basically the challenge of finding out who you really are. I appreciated all of that. I definitely liked the book more when I started getting into these issues. The plot pulled me forward, especially the second half of the book which was a lot more fun and engaging than the second half.

I didn't connect with Liam as a main character. For the whole novel I felt fairly disconnected from him. Maybe it had to do with the third-person narrative but I've read plenty of books written in the third-person that kept me intimately connected with the narrator. It was hard to get into Liam's head especially in the beginning. I felt like I was looking down on his life instead of being caught up and intimately involved in everything.

This is a book about a basketball team and while it may be classified as something other than a sports novel it does revolve around sports. I didn't think the basketball action scenes were the best I've read, but I do like how the atmosphere of the basketball game was always aptly described. The team dynamics were well portrayed in game and practice scenes and that's very important to the story.

I did like the other characters in the novel, especially the girls on the girls' basketball team. They had a lot of spunk and their vibrancy for life really brought some energy to the novel and the narration. That's one reason why the book picks up in the second half when Liam is working with the girls. Liam deals with a realistic situation concerning his long-distance girlfriend which I really enjoyed. Liam's parents were realistic and distinctive. I liked how they simultaneously confused him and encouraged him.

The emotional intensity in this book could have been higher. That is my main reservation. But overall, it's a finely crafted novel with a lot to say and it's a quick read. Out of all the boy books I've read this book I feel like this one will appeal to boys the most. If you're in the mood for a book like this definitely give it a try.

1 comment:

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