Subscribe in a reader
Note from Liza:
Paul Volponi is one of the most extraordinary YA authors in the US today. Many of the bloggers and authors I know don’t know about him. This shocks me. He’s had 11 books published and many have received top awards! He has been addressing issues of race, sexually for years and years and years, doing so in a way that is honest, real, painful, and respectful. Years ago, I dubbed him the King of Urban Fiction. I hope anyone who is interested in diversity will not only read his books, but promote them.
Best friends Mackey and J.R. have waited their whole lives to win the basketball tournament at Rucker Park, where their favorite pro ballers squared off against street legends. But the day of their big game, J.R. is fatally stabbed—and it’s Mackey’s fault, even though he didn’t wield the knife. Now Mackey has a score to settle, but the killer is watching his every move.
Rucker Park Setup by Paul Volponi
Couldn’t stop turning the pages with this eye-opening book into the world of schoolyard basketball in NYC. Another masterpiece by “The King of YA Urban Fiction,” Paul Volponi. True-to-life lessons on how one word, even a nod can impact a person’s life irreparably! The choices we make and with whom we interact can have a long lasting impact – Who are our role models and what do they stand for? Who are the people deserving of our respect? What truly counts if we’re going to live as moral and responsible human beings? And finally, when any sport – whether basketball or football etc. – is the ticket out of poverty – what the price and to whom are you willing to pay it?
Another heartbreaking wow!
View all my reviews
Marcus and Eddie are best friends who found the strength to break through the racial barrier. Marcus is black; Eddie is white. Stars of their school basketball team, they are true leaders who look past the stereotypes and come out on top. They are inseparable, watching each other’s backs, both on and off the basketball court. But one night—and one wrong decision—will change their lives forever. Will their mistake cost them their friendship . . . and their future? An ALA Best Book for Young AdultsAn ALA Quick Pick “Top Ten”IRA Children’s Book Award (Young Adult)
Volponi, in my opinion, is THE urban YA writer to read. His books should be on every high school reading list. BLACK AND WHITE is one more book by Volponi that depicts the reality facing urban American youth and the justice system. The title refers to his main characters, teammates and best friends who are basketball stars at their high school. Their nicknames are Black and White, which not only represents the color of their skin, but the close connection they have together – one is not without the other. They could be the kids next door, feeling invincible and making choices that will impact them for the rest of their lives. On a deeper level, these characters also represent the racial divide between black and white. This is a gripping, powerful tale reminding us to keep our eyes open to reality, to hold our judgments, and to recognize that injustice prevails, even when two young men are guilty of a crime.
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/
Award-winning author, Paul Volponi=
Heart-stopping, powerful, exceptional, and true-to-life! These are just a words that describe the novels by The King of YA Urban Fiction, Paul Volponi. Volponi’s YA novels are: Rikers High, Response, Hurricane Song, Rucker Park Setup, Rooftop, Black and White, Homestretch, The Hand You’re Dealt and in May, 2011 Crossing Lines described by Volponi as a YA novel “about a macho football player whose sister’s best friend decides he needs to wear lipstick and then a dress to school.” What’s it like to walk in someone else’s shoes? Can’t wait to read Volponi’s characters’ perspectives and the lessons learned! In 2012 The Final Four will be published. It’s “about four players at the Final Four of the NCAA Basketball Tournament (a political and social look at that event and its effect on players’ lives.)” The conclusion to Black and White will be published by Viking – pub. date to be announced.
I hope EVERYONE reads Volponi’s books, especially teens and educators, and our politicians could learn a few things from him too! He opens windows to society and urban youth that few have the guts to see, let alone write about. I’m certain Volponi has shared only a small part of what he has seen and experienced through the years as a former teacher for incarcerated teens at Rikers and by teaching in a drug day-treatment center.
I personally have never met Volponi, but he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy who walks around seeing himself as a hero or even the type of guy who lives to be thanked or for that matter special or any different than the rest of us. But based on everything I have read I am certain he has made a tremendous impact on young adults and helped quite a few on the sometimes perilous journey of growing up.
Here’s what think. Volponi’s work as an author and teacher changes lives. He gives readers a gift and it’s up to us to decide what to do with it. Do we walk away, maybe tell others what powerful books he’s written, or do we do something in this world, big or small, to make it a little better for someone else? – Ultimately that’s what Volponi’s saying. Life can be really crappy (big time understatement) but what are we going to do to change it? What’s truly valuable to you?
I won’t forget these books and in honor of this interview I am offering readers the opportunity to enter to win one Volponi novel – your choice of one of the eight pictured below.
To learn more about Paul Volponi, his novels, and to read excerpts, please visit his website at: http://www.paulvolponibooks.com/
1. Q: In all your books you do an excellent job portraying the complexity of adults. They are users/abusers/bullies/exploiters, but also role models/leaders/mentors. Ultimately, what do you hope young adults and adults will draw from these portrayals and why?
2. Q. I was struck by the observation that each one of your books highlights how one simple decision can greatly alter the life of not just the one making the choice, but those around him. Often the young adult doesn’t recognize how his choice would lead to such a horrific path of destruction or in some cases a positive change. How can other young adults learn from these situations and hopefully avoid the destructive ones all together?
3. Q. Your books reflect a clear and accurate picture of racial tensions and prejudices in real settings like Rikers, the Metrodome in New Orleans during Katrina, and in schools, which I believe will surprise many of your readers. Change is extremely slow and positive action is the key. Politicians often fail. So given this perspective, what would you like to see young adults and adults DO to improve this dire, dismal relationship among races.
4. Q. Another observation is that your books clearly show that money and material things are nothing in comparison to the love, respect, support of family, but that our society places a greater value on the material than relationships. What advice do you have to give young adults to keep the WANTS in perspective when they’re inundated daily with newest and greatest.
5. Q. Everyone faces difficult moments. If you could give something – either an small object or a piece of paper with words written on it – for a young adult to carry around in his pocket or wallet and pull out when he doesn’t know what to do, what would it be or what would it say and why?
Rucker Park Setup
Black and White
The Hand You're Dealt