Booklist Reviews 2005 September #1
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 9-12. "Kids who are different colors don't get to be all that tight in my neighborhood. But we get past all that racial crap," says Marcus, an African American senior whose best friend, Eddie, is white. Together, the boys are known at school as Black and White. Both are basketball stars entertaining scholarship offers from local New York City colleges, but they risk everything for more spending money. Considering fast-food jobs too demeaning, they turn to armed stickups, and during their third robbery, they shoot and wound their victim. In alternating chapters, Marcus and Eddie recount the terrifying days after the event as they wait for the police to find and arrest them. The disparate treatment each receives highlights their racial divide, which is occasionally echoed on the streets in harsh language full of hate: a man on the subway tells a white girl that "niggers are going to fuck you, too." Using authentic voices that will draw in both strong and reluctant readers, Volponi writes a taut novel that avoids didacticism and deftly balances drama and passion on the basketball court with each boy's private terror and anguish. Teens will want to discuss the story's layered moral ambiguities, heartbreaking choices, and, as Marcus says, "the line that separates black and white." ((Reviewed September 1, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2005 Fall
Marcus (black) and Eddie (white) are basketball players with realistic dreams of scholarships and pro careers. Then they're caught for a string of burglaries, one that results in Eddie's shooting a man and Marcus's taking the rap. Themes of friendship, racial justice, and youthful mistakes overpower the story while the dual narration reveals two points of view but little distinction between voices. Copyright 2005 Horn Book Guide Reviews.
PW Reviews 2005 June #3
Volponi's (Rikers) excellent novel has it all: authentic characters, a thought-provoking plot and heartbreaking drama. Marcus Brown and Eddie Russo are best friends and basketball stars at a Queens, N.Y., high school, well-known not only for their athletic prowess but also because Marcus is black and Eddie white ("Kids who are different colors don't get to be that tight in my neighborhood"). As Marcus says, they've gotten "past all that racial crap," but the novel makes it clear that the rest of society hasn't. Short on cash, the boys stick up a few strangers using Eddie's grandfather's gun, which accidentally discharges during their third robbery, grazing an African-American man's head. In alternating first-person narratives, the two describe the aftermath of the events. Marcus is arrested first because the victim recognizes him as a passenger on the public bus he drives. The cops soon connect the dots and figure out Eddie is "the shooter," but the evidence against him is only circumstantial. Grand plans of scholarships and pro careers begin to unravel, more dramatically for Marcus, whose family does not have the means to hire an attorney. The two teens wrestle with guilt and obligation-to their parents, to their victims and to each other. The mess in which they find themselves raises questions about the burdens of friendship and the role race plays in criminal justice. The fast-paced action, vivid on-court scenes and gritty, natural dialogue make this a pageturner of a tale. Ages 12-up. (May) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
PW Reviews 2007 January #5
"This excellent novel has it all: authentic characters, a thought-provoking plot and heartbreaking drama," PW said in a starred review of this tale about an interracial friendship between two basketball stars. Ages 10-up. (Dec.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.