How to bounce back
“It was the summer of 1988, / When basketball gave me wings / and I had to learn / how to rebound,” says 12-year-old Charlie Bell. Though he dreams of heroics on the court, truth is, he’s not that good and avoids playing. His father just died, and he’s become closed off and consumed by grief. Frustrated, Charlie’s mother sends him off to his grandparents’ home for the summer. Charlie doesn’t want to go, feeling that “soaring above / the sorrow and grief / seemed impossible.” But because he’s only 12 years old, Charlie doesn’t understand that he’s not the only one suffering a loss. Charlie lost a father, but his mother lost a husband, and his grandparents lost a son.
This novel-in-verse, the prequel to the Newbery Medal-winning The Crossover (2014), includes comic-style illustrations by Dawud Anyabwile that portray Charlie’s hoop dreams, Granddaddy’s pithy reflections on life and plenty of homespun philosophy drawn from basketball. As Charlie begins to open up to the world and his place in it, he rebounds with the love and support of his family and friends. Charlie finds many things over the course of the summer—a restored sense of joy, a new sense of normal and his game.
This article was originally published in the April 2018 issue of BookPage. Download the entire issue for the Kindle or Nook.