Toby Wheeler is an eighth grader, who finds himself warming the bench during his first ever basketball season. Around town, Toby is known as a ‘gym rat’ because of all the time he spends at the rec center playing basketball. But his days of being a ‘gym rat’ are over when the newly hired head coach of his school basketball team approaches him and asks him to try-out. Toby’s best friend, JJ, is the star player on the team, so Toby thinks that since he has beaten JJ at the rec center so many times that he will become the MVP. He has it all wrong. JJ has already been treating him like a little kid, and when Toby keeps messing up during practices their friendship gets even worse. To top it off, the coach’s daughter happened to be his new crush. The book gets even more interesting when his team heads to finals and they play the best team in the league. Will Toby be able to get past his social struggles? Or will he stay a benchwarmer forever?
This novel takes place in a modern day high school in a small town. A lot of the book also takes place in a neighborhood where most of the characters live. The time period, which is the 21st century, also contributes to the ‘relatableness’ of the story. The theme of this book is to never give up. He highlights the theme well by describing Toby’s feelings thoroughly.
This book contains a fair amount of dialogue, but it is balanced out with description very well. It is written in first person, and is told from Toby’s point of view. I like this because it’s not as confusing as seeing multiple characters’ points of view. The author also kept the description simple enough so you weren't getting bored, but still complex enough that you could visualize all off the events clearly.
I thought this book was really good because it was packed full with action, and a lot of drama. I like this because it shows the athletic and stressed side of the characters, but also displays the calm and emotional side. It made the book more intriguing because it wasn’t focusing on just one genre. The book was also fast paced in a way that never let you get bored, yet the plot was still easy to follow. This made the book more interesting for me since I like a really ‘get to the point’ kind of story. Overall, I absolutely loved this book and would be interested in reading another book written by this author (Thatcher Heldring). I would recommend this book to anyone between the ages of 12-15 because some things they say and do in the book would only make sense to a high-schooler like myself. I would rate this book 4.5/5 stars, if not more, because I really enjoyed the content, which kept me constantly intrigued, and whenever they were playing basketball, which was a lot, I could visualize every second of it.
Book Reviewed By Sydney
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