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Swagger
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Sports novelist Deuker has created an intense story in which excellent basketball action is tautly woven into a plot about teen-coach ethics. Jonas moves with his parents to a new state, just as he’s about to enter his senior year in high school and with the promise of a possible college basketball scholarship hanging over his head—if he can keep his grades up and get enough varsity game time. Jonas makes a new friend, Levi, who appears to be both simple and steadfast but is ultimately far more complex than he had realised. Meanwhile, he acquires powerful leadership skills that help him make a difficult decision: stand up for the truth or preserve his own future. Deuker creates a textured cast of parents, coaches, and teens and deftly handles themes of personal ethics, teamwork, burgeoning friendships, and coping with an abusive adult. Without ever dragging or inserting unbelievable plot twists, Deuker elevates his sports novel to the level of a literary work, inviting readers to empathise with Jonas and use his experiences to consider their own values. Grades 7-10. --Francisca Goldsmith

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