By Walter Dean Myers
Scholastic, Inc., 1996. 266 pgs. Young Adult
Greg Harris, aka Slam, is an African American teen attending a private school, getting a better education than the local public school can provide. However, his grades are slumping, and the thing he cares about most—basketball—isn’t working out for him as well as he hoped. Basketball is his way out of the poverty cycle, and he knows he’s a good player, but his coach doesn’t seem to respect his game, and Slam has a hard time getting along with some of his teammates, especially the white kid who’s the second best player on the team and seems to be the coach’s favorite.
Myers does a great job portraying a realistic character facing the problems in his life. While the black-boy-who-likes-basketball is a commonly used stereotype, Myers takes readers beyond that by making Slam a believable character by drawing on his own experiences—his life in Harlem, struggles with school, a passion for basketball, and a love for his community—to bring Slam to life. Myers shows some of the darker sides of Slam’s life, with his father not being able to find consistent work and his best friend getting involved with dealing drugs, but he also shows how Slam’s strength to work for his dreams.