Books on Tape. May 2021. 10:30 hrs. ISBN 9780593459287. $45. F
The 17-year-old Samuel “Sooley” Sooleymon gets the chance of a lifetime when he’s selected to play for South Sudan in a youth basketball tournament held in the United States. It’s a dream opportunity for Sooley, who hopes to be scouted by coaches and perhaps be recruited to play college basketball. As Sooley tries to showcase his talents in the States, tragedy strikes in South Sudan, where a raging civil war leads to his father’s death; then his sister disappears, and his mother and brothers become refugees. Sooley ends up with a college scholarship, and he tirelessly works on his game in hopes of becoming successful enough to save his family. The juxtaposition of Sooley’s American dream and his family’s refugee tragedy is heartbreaking. This book features a lot of basketball descriptions and terminology that may be hard for non-fans to follow. However, there’s room to appreciate Sooley’s story even for readers who don’t know what it means to “hit a jumper from the top of the key.” Dion Graham’s narration is superb.
VERDICT This book is highly recommended for basketball fans. Fans of Grisham will also enjoy this latest display of storytelling prowess, even if the technical basketball aspects aren’t as appreciated.
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