***I received an ARC (advanced reader’s copy) so I could give an honest review***
A group of troubled but charismatic boys in a tough Buffalo, NY neighborhood play basketball at a local park and dream of winning a state high school championship. Driven by raw talent and killer instinct, they dominate the court, but everywhere else, they feel like losers.
Hammond is told through the eyes of James Lombardi, a precocious but mentally ill boy who believes winning a championship will ease his “Evil Thoughts” and save his family, long haunted by generations of substance abuse, uncontrollable rage, and suicide.
A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, Hammond, offers a poetic and disturbing look inside the complex mind of an adolescent boy as he slowly learns that having the heart of a champion can sometimes be more burden than blessing.
I really enjoyed this coming-of-age novel. It starts with Jimmy, and his friends Ray, Gerry, and Tony being in the sixth grade. Jimmy had a crush on Julia who ended up breaking his heart. With so much drama and angst packed into this novel, Jimmy never really recovered.
Even though Jimmy was the main character, I felt something more for his older brother Dan. Maybe because he was a mystery. Dan was depressed, and I felt bad for him, wishing someone would help him, at least listen if he wanted to talk. Jimmy had issues too. He was very mean to his little brother and sisters. He was broken inside due to his evil thoughts, and because his dad always took out his anger on him.
My favorite lines: 1) The family machine was in gear, and nothing could slow it down. No time to check on cuts or bruises or shattered egos. 2) It ends in tragedy. It ends in death. Don’t fool yourself for a second, thinking it can happen otherwise. 3) I had no idea I was now both superhero and villain.
I wish there had been more dialogue during some scenes, especially the pretty intense ones. Once I started imagining the story as Jimmy’s journal entries instead of actual scenes happening in the present, it was easier. The story really started to pick up and become more interesting after the time jump when they entered Kirkland High.
I felt so bad for Gerry. I wanted to give all these boys a hug because they all seemed so lost. The author did a great job with characterization and voice. The drama and angst was very well done as well. I prayed for them to win the basketball championship so they could have something good happen in their lives. Did they win? Did they lose? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
I RECOMMEND the book to read.