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FLASHBACK FRIDAY (10): THE FINAL FOUR by Paul Volponi
March 28th, 2014 by Liza Wiemer

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To learn more about Flashback Friday, check out FICTION FARE

11699202The Final Four by 

Pub. Date: March 1, 2012

Publisher: Viking Juvenile

Buy it here: Barnes & NobleAmazon, IndieBound

Author’s website

From Goodreads:

Four players with one thing in common: the will to win.Malcolm wants to get to the NBA ASAP. Roko wants to be the pride of his native Croatia. Crispin wants the girl of his dreams. M.J. just wants a chance.March Madness is in full swing, and there are only four teams left in the NCAA basketball championship. The heavily favored Michigan Spartans and the underdog Troy Trojans meet in the first game in the semifinals, and it’s there that the fates of Malcolm, Roko, Crispin, and M.J. intertwine. As the last moments tick down on the game clock, you’ll learn how each player went from being a kid who loved to shoot hoops to a powerful force in one of the most important games of the year. Which team will leave the Superdome victorious? In the end it will come down to which players have the most skill, the most drive, and the most heart.

My Review:

For those who follow me on Twitter and Goodreads, it’s no secret that I am a huge fan of Paul Volponi’s. I became intrigued by his work when RESPONSE received the Milwaukee County Teen Book Award Honor in 2010. After that, I devoured his novels and dubbed Paul the King of Urban YA Fiction.THE FINAL FOUR is one of Paul’s finest novels. Volponi writes about March Madness, the time when the best college basketball teams play for the NCAA Championship. It’s huge money, huge exposer, huge pressure. Volponi tells the story of two teams battling in the Final Four through the eyes of four players. Interspersed are newspaper and TV interviews, commentary. One of the characters is Michael Jordan-imagine what it must be like to love basketball, be named after one of the best players to ever play in the NBA, and always having to deal with being compared to your namesake: THE Michael Jordan. Another character is Malcolm McBride, a young man who’a nickname is “One and Done” because he’s only playing one year of college ball until he’s eligible to enter the NBA draft. Malcolm’s outlook on life has definitely been shaped by poverty and the horrible experiences that have plagued his life. Crispin Rice is a character I really enjoyed, a leader for sure. But his life isn’t as storybook as the media makes it out to be. My favorite character is Roco Bacic who survived some horrific experiences in Croatia to come to the US and fulfill his dream of playing basketball. Some of his story is told through a personal journal that captures unforgettable moments of terror.
The reader becomes immersed in the players’ lives on and off the basketball court. The novel is rife with raw emotion, tragedy, and triumph.
There were several passages where I shook my head in awe. Even if you rarely on never read realistic fiction, THE FINAL FOUR should be your first. Get swept away in March Madness.
I highly recommend this novel for young men – seventh grade and up – who are reluctant readers. THE FINAL FOUR may very well be just the novel to inspire a love for reading


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