Slam! by Walter Dean Myers
On the basketball court, a player has a clear objective and several people who are seriously in the way. In a young person’s life, there is the goal of reaching adulthood with style and what can seem like shark-infested waters in the way. For Greg, who likes to be known as Slam for his finesse on the basketball court, the obstructions on the court are no threat to his confidence. Off the court is another story. As he makes his way through one successful basketball season, he struggles to transfer some of his basketball skill to his life.
Told solely through Slam’s voice, this story also reveals what goes on inside the head of an African-American youth growing up the inner city, where drive-by shootings are commonplace and drug-dealing is a prevalent career choice. Yet his only real obstacle to realizing his dreams is himself. Slam has grit and heart and a family that he values; if he overcomes his sensitivity to what he sees as disrespect, he will have a clear shot at his dreams.
As a story with a lot of basketball action, this book will mostly be enjoyed by kids in upper middle and high school, boys and girls, who like to play basketball. But the basketball should not be a reason to avoid this book. It is a great story of tackling growing up with both mind and heart.