Monday, February 23, 2015

Review: The Cortlandt Boys by Laura Vanderkam



Title: The Cortlandt Boys
Author: Laura Vanderkam
Publisher: Laura Vanderkam Books
Publication Date: December 18, 2014 
Genre: Mystery/ Romance/ Sports
 Page Count: 291
Age Range: 13+


Synopsis (from Goodreads): 
A small town high school basketball team wins the Pennsylvania state championship with an improbable last second tree point shot. The Cortlandt Cavaliers celebrate their unlikely victory, but good fortune changes the boys' worlds in unpredictable ways. This story revisits the characters 10 and 20 years later as the ramifications of their youthful success play out over the course of their lives, forever linking them and the people around them to this little town has its ways of not quite letting you go.  


My Thoughts: 

Okay, I will be honest. When I first started this book I did not like it at all. I thought it was slow and boring. I also am not a huge fan of basketball (I mean, HOCKEY right?!?!) so it was hard for me to get into it. BUTTTT..... Once I got into it, I LOVED IT. It was so much more different than what I was expecting.

The book is split up into two parts (plus a prologue and epilogue). The book revolves around the town of Cortlandt and that one year when the basketball team won the state championship. In order to understand the novel, you must understand that that game is what the town lives and breathes. The starting line includes the heroes of the town that everyone looks up to. The starting line was made up of James, Mickey, KC, Leroy, and Lawrence. The book goes 10 and 20 years into the future and shows how the town will always go back to that one game. 

The first part of the books is told through the perspective of Max, a school journalist who was reporting during the championship game. She tells the perspective of the game in the prologue and sets the scene for the rest of the novel. The first part is told 10 years later. Max has made it big time, becoming a journalist for Sports magazine. When she runs into Leroy, a boy on the championship team, she is whisked back to Cortlandt. She ends up writing a story about where the team is ten years later. 

I loved this idea, because when you are in high school, athletes are like celebrities. No one ever thinks about where they will end up. This book explores this idea. Max, the newspaper nerd ends up being a famous journalist and the locally famous basketball team ends up stuck in Cortlandt. I really liked Max. I think she reminded me a lot of myself. During my years in high school, I was always focusing on my future and doing everything I could to make myself prepared. Max is the same way, she worked so hard on the newspaper and it ended up helping her in her future. 

The second part of the novel is in the perspective of Janie, James's daughter. In the first part of the novel, we see her a young child but 20 years after the championship game, she is 17 years old. I have to say that Janie was my favorite character. When she was younger, she was full of imagination and life. She had a tough upbringing, without a mother and always being shuffled between different relatives when James was at work. She forms a bond with Max, who ends up being sort of like her mentor. In the second part of the novel, she explores the stories of the team for the twentieth anniversary, while finding herself. 

In the beginning of the novel, I did not like Vanderkam's writing. I found it hard to flip to the next page because I was so bored. By the time I got into the book I saw that what the author was doing was very smart. She was setting the stage and leaving us virtual crumbs so we can put everything together at the end. I was always waiting to see what would happen next by the end of the book.

Overall, I found this book to be a really entertaining read. You do not have to like sports to enjoy this one. It is filled with mystery and romance and a plot that will leave you guessing until the very end.

My Rating: ****
Cover Rating: I do not like basketball so I am biased 
Recommendation: 
1. Game Changer by Margaret Peterson Haddix
2. Shift by Jennifer Bradbury 
3. Boost by Kathy Mackel

Now, what do you think?
Sincerely,
a Book Nerd 




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