Matt de la Pena crushed it with this book. The characters are wonderfully written and the story is excellent. Again, I am not a basketball fan. I honestly haven’t watched a full NBA game since Larry Bird and Michael Jordon were both still playing. I never fell in love with the game. however, this book conveyed the passion of the athletes in such a manner that I was bummed that it is the off season for the sport.
While reading the book I could see one specific student as Sticky. This student was very similar to Sticky. They both have similar quirks and both seem to live for the game. Whenever Sticky was playing ball I could see my student. Sadly, when he wasn’t playing ball and we got a glimpse of his struggles in life I could still see my student. I felt sorry for Sticky, I could easily empathize with him. I have had a foster brother and have seen kids bounce from house to house by ‘parents’ that do not want them.
There are many issues I could discuss with students. I could discuss the relationship of stealing from a person versus a store like Dante. We could discuss topics from ‘Stranger Danger’ to the protecting oneself in a teenage relationship.
I wept when Dante showed Sticky the three rocks and how far they were from the wall. That was one of the greatest analogies I have seen/read/heard in years. Unfortunately, it was all too true. There are ‘unwanted’ things and even people in this world. There are way too many students like Sticky; students that can only hope to escape their situation in life through a game.
I feel for students like Sticky. I hope with all of my heart to show students like him that there is more than one option. School can also be an escape. Kids can be passionate about math, or science just as much as they can love a game enough to make ten, twenty or fifty free throws in a row. It is my job as a teacher to get my kids to that free throw line and toss it out there time and time again because I have given them the confidence to build the ability.
I also must develop students like Anh-Thu that already see the success they can achieve inside the walls of a classroom.