The Turnover uses basketball as the background for a boy’s crisis of faith in his grandfather.
The Turnover by Mike Lupica. Simon & Shuster, 2020, 234 pages.
Reading level: Middle Grades, ages 10-12
Recommended for: ages 10-14
Lucas Winston loves basketball and he loves his grandfather. In fact, he loves basketball largely because of his grandfather, the best coach in the league. It’s the family game—Lucas’s father might have been a college star but for a knee injury in high school. Pancreatic cancer took Dad out of the game, and out of Lucas’s life, early on. But there’s still Gramps, a substitute dad and a roll model in one. When Lucas’s 7th grade English teacher assigns a biography project, Lucas knows who his subject will be. The trouble is, Gramps never talks about his early life. And he’s avoiding all his grandson’s questions. Lucas can’t figure it out, until he inadvertently uncovers some unsavory details that threaten to derail not just an English assignment, but a relationship.
Sports fans will appreciate the basketball action that Lupica (an award-winning sports commentator) spreads throughout the narrative of a winning season. He tells the relationship story briskly with no literary flourishes, and while characters are not portrayed with a lot of nuance, they illustrate the importance of moral vigilance. “The things that happened, I let them happen,” Gramps confesses. Can we relate? Careless choices affect others who may be generations removed. The point is clear but not heavy-handed, making this fast-paced read time well spent for basketball fans.
Overall Rating: 4 (out of 5)
- Worldview/moral value: 4.25
- Artistic/literary value: 3.75
Also at Redeemed Reader:
- We’ve reviewed other books by Mike Lupica: The Only Game, Playmakers, and (my personal favorite) Million Dollar Throw. Also see our roundup of basketball books.
- For a look at the grainier side of basketball, see our review of Foul Trouble.
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