Saturday, July 23, 2011

SHOOTING STAR by Michael Embry

Jesse Christopher is used to moving around.  His father works with horses, and relocation due to changing jobs is something Jesse has learned to take in stride.  This move just before the start of his senior year is proving to be a bit different.

Usually a loner, Jesse has been spending the first few weeks in his new neighborhood at a local park shooting baskets.  His dad has always encouraged his interest in basketball, but moving so often normally prevents him from becoming part of any organized team.  That hasn't diminished Jesse's talent though.  With a goal of shooting at least 250 shots a day, he is pretty amazing on the court and word gets out that there's a new kid in town.

When the coach at the county high school hears about Jesse, he makes a point to stop by and have a chat with the young player.  Living where Jesse currently is requires him to attend the city high school, but when the coach sees Jesse's skills, he suggests the family check out housing outside the city so Jesse can attend the county school.  With a little help from the assistant coach's wife, Jesse's parents find a house to rent just a mile from his father's new job.

Jesse's senior year begins.  He is not only the new kid in school but also the new kid on an already excellent basketball team.  The team fell just short of the state championship last year, and with all the starters returning, they have big hopes for the championship this year.  The players are happy to see Jesse's shooting skills, but welcoming him as part of the team doesn't please everyone.  The coach will have his work cut out for him as he tries to make Jesse a part of the team.

Jesse is facing other challenges as well.  Being Hispanic and having his father work on a farm, gives the perception of the family as migrant workers or illegal immigrants.  Unfortunately, this means Jesse is not welcome by everyone in the county school district.  Even a few of the teachers give Jesse a hard time.  Another complication develops when Jesse's father suffers a heart attack.  It is a minor attack, but still sidetracks Jesse's concentration on the court and in the classroom.

SHOOTING STAR by Michael Embry offers plenty of excitement as readers follow Jesse and the team through a season filled with possibilities and challenges.  Embry's generous use of dialogue and his sharp play-by-play narrative help connect readers to the characters and the non-stop action packed into this novel.

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