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SLAM! By Walter Dean Myers
Transcript of SLAM! By Walter Dean Myers
Greg Harris or "Slam" is a high school student from inner city Harlem. He fits in, has a lot of friends, and plays basketball for the best team in the city, Carver. This all changes when he transfers schools to Latimer to get a better education and pursue visual arts, but if Slam it had his way he would have never left Carver...
Latimer is a prodominately white school whose basketball team is known as perenial losers citywide. Slam doesn't excel or have much interest in academics, which is a problem because to him it seems like every single person in the school has no trouble at all while he is barely passing.
While adjusting to his new school, Slam has to deal with a multitude of other problems. Slam's best friend from Carver, Ice, may be dealing drugs, his Grandma is dying, his new coach, Coach Nipper, is barely playing him, and of course he has trouble with his girlfriend, Mtisha.
A Little More Summary
Slam is able to push aside his off court issues and lead his team to the top of the conference, but along the way finds that what really matters isn't his game on the court but his game off it.
"You still don't get it do you? The only difference between on the court and off it is that everybody is in the game off the court. You will play, and you will win or lose. There's nobody on the bench, nobody is sitting out. You're in the game, Slam. You're in it whether you want to be or not. A lot of people fool themselves and say they're just not going to play. Believe me, it don't work that way." Page 218
"It's not right, man," I said.
"Are you hard enough to handle it anyway?" Goldy asked. "Hard enough to do what's right for Slam?" Page 205
"Slam!" provided exactly was I was looking for when I picked it up. It was full of some of the most descriptive and realistic basketball action I have read. The fast paced journey to the conference championship gave suspense commonly absent in sports books. The real game changer in this novel, however, was Slam's journey to getting his off court life figured out. The underlying themes of inner city issues and the mindset necessary to get out, add a depth and story that set "Slam!" apart from your typical basketball book.
A Harlem teenager learns how to apply the will he has to win at hoops to other parts of his life in this vivid, fluent story from Myers . Greg "Slam" Harris is justly proud of his game, but he realizes that NBA daydreams don't cut it in the classrooms of his new South Bronx magnet school- -and that the tough talk that serves him so well on the street only gets his teachers and his college-bound girlfriend, Mtisha, on his case. Writing in a rolling, fast- break style that sounds so authentic that the absence of rough language is hardly noticeable, Myers brilliantly captures the pace and feel of inner city life as he climbs into the shoes of an angry, confused young man watching his friends making right or wrong turns, and wondering about his own direction. The author plots with rare skill: Slam simultaneously works to mend fences with Mtisha, nerves himself to find out whether his suddenly prosperous main man, Ice, has turned to dealing, and leads the school's unprepossessing team through a series of exciting games to a conference championship. Few writers can match Myers for taut, savvy basketball action, and in those scenes he's at the top of his form. Some loose ends may stay untied, but Slam, after hearing his assistant coach's comment that not all games end at the buzzer, is beginning to find a way to make his pride work for, rather than against, him. -Kirkus Reviews
Walter Dean Myers