I enjoyed reading this one. The Native American male protagonist is a rarity in YA literature. It was interesting to learn about their cultures and move past some misconceptions of the way they live. The sub-story of Tre’s relationship with his family and dealing with his grief added depth to a “sports” book which may draw in a reader who is wanting more than just basketball in a book. However, the strictly sports readers get a taste of realistic fiction that may interest them to try other genres in the future.
The audiobook was not the actual narrator since it was an advance copy from NetGalley.
Tre Brun, living on an Ojibwe reservation, loves basketball and dreams of playing for the NBA. In fact, since his brother died in a car accident, the basketball court is pretty much the only place he feels happy. He'll do anything in his power to make it big, no matter how much seems stacked in his way.
The narration for the Rez Ball audiobook was done well, but the book itself failed to capture my attention. This may be because I'm not particularly interested in sports. I can sometimes overlook that by focusing on other parts of the story but I was mostly bored with this one.
I enjoyed this book. However, I won't be recommending it to my students. It doesn't represent the many wonderful people I met living next to the White Mountain Apache reservation or those I met when my parents lived on the great Navajo reservation. The people were quiet, shy, humorous, kind. The children in the book seemed much more harsh, definitely had worse language skills than any child I'd met in those cultures. That said, I'm sure there is a dual presentation based on if one is with outsiders or"own people." That's why I enjoyed it perhaps, seeing another side. Overall, an interesting story.
It's beautiful chaos.
Sometimes it feels like that's what we are.
And right now it's all we've got."
This book is itself a bit of beautiful chaos. As an Oklahoman, I resonate with so much of this story! The basketball dreams and heartbreaks, the gamer community, and as a teacher, it's amazing to hear the voice of such a strong Indigenous writer. All of my students will feel this one, though. Every kid carries the weight of lifetimes on their shoulders, so much more than we can see. And this book does such a fabulous job of showing the heart of Tre Brun. From heart-pounding court time to the dirt of real small towns and rez life. From the cool kids leaning against the walls to the cold fear of social anxiety and trying to live up to everyone's expectations - while trying to deal with personal grief.
This is one story that young people will truly understand. I hope this book finds its way into their hands.
This book tells the story about Tre, an Ojibwe high school sophomore who wants to lead his team to become the first all-Native team to make it to the state championship in basketball. Not only does Tre love to play, but he wants to honor his older brother who died in a tragic accident. Along the way, Tre must try to convince his teammates to leave behind some risky behaviors (drinking, partying, etc) and work their hardest as a team to make it all the way to the finals.
I enjoyed listening to this book. However, I do feel like there could have been even more emphasis on the action of the basketball games. It felt like there wasn't as much of that as I would have liked. Overall, though, it was a great book with much needed representation. I'll definitely recommend it to my basketball-loving students!
This was a strong book from both the character development, especially main character Tre navigating the death of his older brother and following in his footsteps to play rez ball but also as a sports story by itself about hard work, dedication, and teamwork. Then family, relationships. And also contemporary Indigenous life. It's all there.
Khiana is a good somewhat manicpixiedreamgirl type who says she's bi which is neither here nor there because Tre's definitely interested. It's about a season of basketball at school and the preparation before as school starts after rolling off of summer and moving on with a devastating loss.
I listened to a Netgalley audiobook which is oddly funny as a non-human narrator especially since there was plenty of swearing which is entertaining when it's robotic. Rooted for Tre. Enjoyed him as a character.
So much heart in this story! Tre's journey through grief is really relatable, and it's really heartwarming to see how he and his team come together.
Thank you to NetGalley and Harper Audio for the synthesized voice galley of this title in exchange for an honest review.
Although I’m not a huge fan of sportsball in general, this book was special. The main character started playing basketball after his older brother, a star player, was killed in a car accident. At 6’4”, he gets good really fast.
No spoilers, but the story was inspired by the writer’s memories of playing on the reservation and getting to the state competition…
Some parts that I loved:
-the main female character was into video games and talked about “sportsball”
-the main character learned to stand up for himself with regard to athletes partying
-the relationships were realistic, both friends and romantic
-life on the reservation was described and addressed
Grateful for the opportunity to hear this story. Hope that the final audiobook does it justice!
This book was overall fantastic. It told the story of a Native American teenage boy growing up on his reservation, dealing with the death of his brother, navigating friendships and relationships all while trying to win a state championship for his school's team. The story is based on the author's teenage experiences and that makes it feel more special and real. It would be an amazing book for Native American teens to see themselves and their culture, for any teen to see into the lives of Natives and for anyone who loves basketball. Some of the play by plays of the games went a bit over my head and seemed to be too much basketball but I know other readers would love that. The plot and the depth of emotions the character displayed were real and honest. I loved that everyone was flawed and human and seemed like how real teenager would react in situations instead of trying to make the characters more mature and adult.
The sports action stood out to me in this one, and I don't even like sports lol. On top of that there is the added layers of the look at life on the reservation, a family processing their grief in a healthy way, and a teen boy who stands up for what he believes in. A truly incredible story.
Graves tells a compelling story of the struggles of indigenous youth - some common among all young people and others unique to the indigenous experience. Any time we are offered a work that addresses diversity in this way, we should snatch it up and encourage our youth to read and learn from it.
This novel touches on so many concepts that teenagers face; tragedy, trauma, adversity, resilience, success and failure. I related to this book on so many levels, as a student athlete who lost an older brother and as an educator of high school students who face pressure from their peers and society. Byron Graves does an excellent job of bringing the characters to life and putting the reader right into the moment on the rez. I found myself grieving the loss of Jaxon with Tre, his family, and his teammates and also cheering them on as they played their basketball games in his memory. I was on the edge of my seat during numerous competitions in the story, hoping that Red Lakes pulled out the win and disappointed when they didn't. I was invested.
If you are someone who loves a YA sports story, this is definitely for you. I highly recommend it.
Rez Ball follows Cash, a young indigenous basketball player, as he navigates the challenges of teenage angst while grappling with the death of his brother. The death isn't a focus, but comes up throughout. A classic tale of winning the championship is the priority of this rez (small town) so much so that rules are bent for players. The story highlighting the importance of sports in small communities. wanted a deeper exploration of indigenous heritage and culture.
VERDICT: Good addition to an already established sports section.
We need more Native American YA! This one was good. It has so many layers: grief, racism, dating, figuring yourself out, and basketball. The author draws from his own experiences growing up. There’s a little drinking but I’m sure it happened like that so what can you say.