A Choctaw high school student named Bobby tries to help his best friend when his family is under attack.
Oklahoma junior Bobby Byington plays basketball on two different teams: his school team, the Panthers, and a statewide, all-Indian team, the Achukmas. Bobby’s best friend is Johnny Mackey, a Cherokee teenager whose father is a prominent lawyer. An accident causes Mr. Mackey to fall off a ladder and end up in the hospital, but as the police investigate, it turns out to have been deliberate—and when the Mackeys’ house is firebombed, it’s clear they are at risk. While Johnny and his family hide out in a safe house, Bobby, alongside the detective on the case, wants to figure out who is responsible. The police take the original incident seriously and cooperate with the Native characters to find the people responsible. By working together with his friend Lloyd and with the help of the Achukmas’ Coach Robison, Bobby puts himself in harm’s way to discover the truth. Refreshingly, the book normalizes male characters’ close friendships and displays of emotion, tying into Tingle’s (Choctaw) mountain metaphor: We encounter challenges every day, but they do not need to be climbed alone. The text uses basketball to emphasize the importance of teamwork both on and off the court.
An engaging sports-infused mystery for reluctant readers.(Fiction. 12-16)