It is well-known that participation in sports by young people will help them learn valuable lessons that they can use later on in life. This book by Paul Volponi shows that the sport doesn't have to be played in organized leagues to do this as his time playing streetball was just as valuable. Here is my review of "Streetball Is Life."
“Streetball Is Life: Lessons Earned on the Asphalt" by Paul Volponi
Basketball, amateur, memoir, young adult, society
September 9, 2020
5 of 5 stars (excellent)
Readers of the young adult author Paul Volponi may know about his books and his awards but they may not be aware of his basketball prowess, especially on the concrete courts where streetball players have a culture all their own. Volponi writes how some of his experience on those courts applied later in his life in this excellent book.
As a 17 year old, Paul was already making a name for himself in the streetball culture in Queens, New York. Playing with mostly adults who were frequently taller or stronger than him, he writes about his games and his teammates with gusto. These teammates are rarely mentioned their real names, but instead by their court nicknames like Pirate, J-Train, Gene the Dream and Snake. While the play on the court can get extremely physical without calling fouls, it is clear that Paul enjoys this culture and has built up a high level of respect for both his basketball ability and his demeanor.
At the end of several of the chapters, he describes how his experiences in streetball in areas such as communication, standing up to challenges, and respect can be applied to life away from the court. He describes this first as how the characteristic was present in the park, and then how it is used in other life circumstances. These were very good, it's just a shame that more of them are not present.
The adventure of Paul's streetball is parallel in the book to two other experiences many young people have as well – having a crush on another young person and preparing for college. For the former, Paul's date with a neighboring girl is capture in a way that will tug at your heart and his initial college experience, especially when he went to tryouts for the basketball team, is also great reading.
While this is a book clearly designed for young adult readers, as are the rest of his books, any reader who enjoys playing streetball or even living that life vicariously through books, as I have done when reading Rick Tealander's classic book "Heaven Is a Playground", this book is one to be enjoyed.
I wish to thank Rowman and Littlefield for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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