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The Final Four By Paul Volponi
Mar 28th, 2012 by Liza Wiemer

THE FINAL FOUR, by Paul Volponi

Ah, March Madness- the NCAA Basketball Tournament that has basketball fans and university graduates following their alma maters to see what will happen with their teams. Now we’re down to the FINAL FOUR – Kansas, Ohio State / Kentucky, Louisville http://www.ncaa.com/interactive-bracket/basketball-men/d1/2012

I’m a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison – born a Badger fan, will live a long life, God willing, as a Badger fan. The truth is that I only attended one UW-Madison basketball game (football’s my sport), and that was many years ago. But still, if my “team” were in the tournament, I would most likely get updates and feel the familiar school spirit. No matter how many years it’s been since graduation, school spirit gets in your blood.

THE FINAL FOUR by YA award-winning author, Paul Volponi is a must read for anyone who wants to get a front row view of what life might be like for college basketball players who make it into the NCAA Final Four. Paul did an incredible job describing the controversy connected to what players are allowed to receive (or not receive) as perks for their “labor” while universities and the NCAA reap in millions and millions of dollars from the tournament. Trust me, it’s an eye-opener!

Side note: Young adult athletes who will be playing any NCAA sport – this novel is important for you and your parents to read. With lots of intense action and description, it’s a fast read and cautionary glimpse into college sports.

Here is my review of THE FINAL FOUR as posted to Goodreads and Amazon:

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 and women – seventh grade and up – who are reluctant readers. THE FINAL FOUR may very well be just the novel to inspire a love for reading.

To learn more about Paul Volponi and his other novels, visit his website at: http://www.paulvolponibooks.com/

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