James W. Bennett, author
Double Team is a novel that works as a traditional Young Adult. Its protagonist is a high school sophomore striving to make his school basketball team and then excelling All the while, his small community is traumatized by a pair of heinous crimes. The protagonist’s father is the newly-hired police chief, so Gary is drawn in substantially to the hysteria and vigilantism consuming a town beleaguered by brutal murders and a long-term strike at the community’s largest employer. While all this is occurring, Gary is madly in love, so the book includes a (somewhat clumsy) high school romance. The protagonist and his father have a strong and enriching relationship. In fact, the basketball coach too is a solid role model with a strong moral core. These two strong male characters represent one of the book’s strengths. Double Team is ambitious; it also includes substantial racist and bullying content. In many ways it is a classic coming of age story. Its target audience is the adolescent boy, the hardest audience to reach. Vocabulary is carefully managed to challenge at times, within context, then take a step back, so it could also be a book that works for reluctant readers. I have revised this book carefully three times; I believe it could be the strongest YA novel of its type in a generation. I close by pointing out that nobody—not Gary Paulsen, not Walter Dean Myers, not nobody not nohow—writes stronger basketball narrative than I. And I’ve got the track record to prove it.