Thursday, February 20, 2014


I received an advance copy of this book from the publisher.

When I see a book with sports featuring highly in the story, my initial inclination is to avoid it. That all changed with Chad Harbach's ART OF FIELDING. Harbach's novel proved to so much more than a novel about baseball. So, I was interested to see how Lane would use basketball in his new novel. 

Jimmy Kirkus is a basketball star who just happens to be the son of a basketball star.  His father, Todd Kirkus was once known as "Freight Train" Kirkus and was destined for greatness in the NBA until blowing out his knee.  Now, Jimmy holds the weight of the family's hope and dreams for basketball greatness on his thin shoulders. It proves to be too much. The novel opens with Jimmy repeatedly running into a wall in his school's gym in an attempt to knock himself out or worse. In a nod to the fact that Jimmy is half-Japanese, he becomes known as "Kamikaze" Kirkus.  The novel is told in a before-and-after style where everything dates from and to the incident with the wall.  We see the Kirkus Curse slowly revealed through flashbacks and get an understanding of just what went wrong with this family. Basketball becomes a method for understanding this family's story as well as how they fit into the greater community where basketball is king.  Primarily, it is a tale of fathers and sons and how the sins of the past can sometimes be visited on the one's children.  Can Jimmy break the curse and make a future for himself and his family?

Although I do not believe that this book is as literary or well-written as ART OF FIELDING, it is still a great read. The characters are compelling and well-fleshed out.  I really liked how Lane told the story around the incident of Jimmy and the Wall. It wasn't hard to follow at all and it showed how that particular incident was the centerpiece of everything that happened.

BOTTOM LINE:  Recommended. A great read for those who love stories about complex family relationships.  I can see this one being made into a movie.

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