Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Psychological Trauma of Being A Small Town Basketball Star

Jimmy Kirkus was born into a basketball family. The family has turned out the best basketball players in Columbia City, a small town in Oregon. The town loves basketball, loves having their team win championships, but it puts tremendous pressure on the players, particularly the stars. Jimmy's father, grandfather, and younger brother all suffered from the curse of outsize expectations. Now it's Jimmy's turn.

The family is shattered by alcoholism, death, and wasted talent. None of the Kirkus men seem able to break free of the curse. The book clearly shows how talented youngsters can be destroyed by the pressure to excel in the world of competitive sports.

I found the book very hard to read. The author understands basketball and the pressure put on the players to win. However, I couldn't warm up to his characters. They seemed too broken to be realistic. The opening scene was, for me,
a turn off. Jimmy is shooting baskets after practice. He's alone. He finishes, drops the ball, and instead of leaving rams his head into the brick wall of the gym until he collapses. After that scene, I found it hard to continue reading the book.

However, the book is worth reading. It highlights how a community can put so much pressure on a talented family that the family breaks and is unable to recover.

I reviewed this book for Net Galley.