Seventeen-year-old Samuel Sooleyman comes from a village in South Sudan, a war-torn country where one third of the population is a refugee. His great love is basketball: his prodigious leap and lightning speed make him an exceptional player. And it may also bring him his big chance: he has been noticed by a coach taking a youth team to the United States.
Reviewed on 31st July 2021
John Grisham turns back to sports in this novel about a South Sudanese basketball player who is spotted by a coach looking to take a team to the US for exhibition matches.
I was expecting something a little more light-hearted from a novel about sports, but it turns out that's not what Grisham has in mind as we dive straight in early on to the horrors of a moden-day civil war.
The narrative remains in Grisham's usual quite dispassionate tone - which is quite disturbing in places where it feels like more emotion is justified to almost tone down the pure horror of the events he depicts. Similarly, the tone makes parsing the descriptions of endless basketball matches into a chore, and the cliche "Nothing but net" makes frustratingly frequent appearances.
I think the best wording to use is 'mostly satisfying' - I'm not sure I'd recommend it though as an enjoyable or entertaining read.