Take The Shot – Susan White – Affirm Press – Published 23 July 2019
Bug has a secret. Actually, he has a lot of secrets.
1. He’s formed a basketball team at his new school based on a giant lie.
2. His parents don’t know he’s playing basketball again.
3. His new team-mates have no idea he isn’t allowed to play, and they definitely don’t know why.
Bug will do ANYTHING to keep his secrets, keep his new team and keep his life from falling apart. Because no one can know The Biggest Secret of All: Bug risks his life every time he steps out onto the basketball court.
I’m always on the lookout for YA sport novels. I love them, despite not liking sport myself, and we are always keen to add more titles to our library’s sport collection. Take The Shot has a great mix of sport action, complex family relationships and an authentic teen boy narrating the story. If stories about growing up and navigating your way through high school and new friendships, try Take The Shot.
Bug lives for basketball. It’s the only place he doesn’t feel freakishly tall or gangly, where he has friends and fits in. But when he and his father are diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome, his mother bans him from playing, saying it’s too dangerous. When he has to move in with his Nan, the change of school gives him the opportunity to hide his syndrome and join a mixed basketball team without telling his parents. Hiding these two secrets takes its toll, but it’s worth it to play. But it may be more dangerous that he realises.
Bug narrates the book and its easy to like him. He’s a little bit awkward and unsure but has a certain quality that draws people in, even if he would never believe it. He’s kind to others even if he is hard on himself and doubts if anyone could like him because of his having Marfan Syndrome. Bug’s feelings about his diagnosis form a big part of this story. He struggles to identify himself in the diagnosis and reconcile it with how it effects his life. As he makes new friends and forms the team, he displays great friendship skills and team leadership, he just struggles to recognise those traits in himself. Friendship, bullying, high school, and sport are all major themes of this book.
As Bug strives to hide his diagnosis from his new friends, he also has to manage his feelings about his family’s situation. His father lost a colleague at work and is facing an inquiry. His family are struggling under recent financial difficulties, and have had to move in with Bug’s quirky Nan. I loved Bug’s relationship with his Nan. He starts by being embarrassed about her, but as she continues to support him and he learns more about her history, he grows to accept and understand her. I also loved Bug’s relationship with his sister, who is so much fun.
Take The Shot is an enjoyable book about belonging and finding your place in life, and about the complexities of navigating new friendships and changes in family circumstances.
Category: Young adult fiction
Themes: Basketball, sport, friendship, family, secrets, Marfan Syndrome, health, death, grief, financial stress, high school, belonging.
Reading age guide: Ages 12 and up.
Advisory: Occasional coarse language, sh**. Vague sexual references.
Published: 23 July 2019 by Affirm Press.
Format: Paperback. 302 pages.