#1156 – Point Guard by Mike Lupica

Point Guard
A Home Team Novel
Written by Mike Lupica
Simon & Schuster BYR
April 4, 2017
264 pages    Ages 8—12

A Junior Library Guild Selection

“Everyone assumes that Gus is a baseball guy. But this year Gus is more excited about basketball that any other sport he’s ever played. It looks like the Walton’s home team will be unstoppable.

“But this isn’t going to be the season Gus expected, because their team is getting a new player—and she just happens to be one of his best friends.

“No one else on the team has a problem with a girl playing point guard—so Gus can’t figure out why he is having such a hard time accepting it. And to make matters worse, their center, Steve Kerrigan, constantly pokes fun at Gus’s Dominican heritage, in the same way Steve’s dad took shots at immigrants when he ran for mayor. Gus is starting to wonder if he really belongs anywhere in Walton.

“Can Gus find a way to bring the home team together both on and off the court, or will all these prejudices block their shot at a winning season?” [INSIDE JACKET]

[WC 476]
Gus, Teddy, Jack, and Cassie are best of friends. They hang out and play various sports when they are not playing on their respective teams. It is now basketball season. Try-outs for the Walton Warriors boy’s basketball team will include a new player—Cassie. She believes she is good enough to play on the boy’s team. For Cassie, the girls’ sports teams, in particular the basketball team, are not competitive enough. Jack and Teddy are all for Cassie playing on the boy’s team. Gus says he is, but deep down . . . actually, closer to the surface than Gus will admit, he has misgivings about the idea. When Cassie earns a spot on the boys’ team at point guard, Gus needs to find a way to deal with his misgivings, which sometimes look like anger.

Kids will like Point Guard for both the basketball action and the kids involved. Jack, Teddy, Gus, and Cassie are a great group of friends. I like how Teddy, who does not want to play but wants to be a part of the team, takes on the role of statistician, often helping the team choose the correct plays based Teddy’s stats on the other team. Kids should not be ashamed of being a member of the team—the statisticians, team managers, coaching assistants—but never play in the game. Teddy’s friends all support his decision and his role. Teddy finds a way to be essential to the team’s success. I applaud Lupica for adding Teddy’s statistician role to Point Guard.

Point Guard smartly includes more points of trouble than simply a girl playing on a boys’ team. Because of a mayoral campaign targeting immigrants and the mayor’s son taking it up at school and on the court, Gus begins to think Walton is not as welcoming a town as his parents think it is. There are so many things to love about Point Guard. As a sport story is rocks solid. As a relationship story, Lupica knows his characters well and plays them for the most drama. It is only as a love story that Lupica holds back. Gus cannot fully understand his attraction to Cassie. He feels it, but doesn’t understand the feelings.

Point Guard is about more than basketball. Lupica does put in enough basketball that any fan or player of the game will be happy. The action is fast-paced and perfect for the level of play and the game. Lupica definitely understands youth sports. I love that Lupica chose to put a girl on the boys’ basketball team. I understand Cassie—I was Cassie. Playing on a boys’ team is hard, even when the game comes easily. But this is not Cassie’s story, it is Gus’s story and it is a good, thrilling story that will please both boys and girls. Point Guard is all net—a three-pointer. Swoosh!

POINT GUARD. Text copyright © 2017 by Mike Lupica. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Simon & Schuster BYR, New York, NY.

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Add POINT GUARD to Your Goodreads Shelf HERE.
Reading Group Guide with Discussion Questions can be found is HERE.

Copyright © 2017 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews. All Rights Reserved
Point Guard
A Home Team Novel
Written by Mike Lupica
Simon & Schuster BYR
April 4, 2017

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