One Last Shot
by Anderson, John David

Struggling with debilitating insecurity that is complicated by his parents' constant bickering, Malcolm discovers the geometrical puzzle challenges of miniature golf only to have his promising initial steps overshadowed by his father's competitive nature. 75,000 first printing. Simultaneous eBook.

*Starred Review* To please his father, 12-year-old Malcolm tries to take an interest in competitive sports, but the only one he enjoys is miniature golf. Even there, Dad takes charge, hiring a coach and signing Malcolm up for a national tournament. Frank, the coach, may be unconventional in his approach, but you can't argue with the results of his teaching, which extend beyond putting skills to broader life lessons. He even facilitates Malcolm's friendship with Lex, a girl Malcolm meets during practice. Caught in the long-term crossfire between his parents, Malcolm has plenty of built-up tension, but the combination of Frank's offbeat coaching and Lex's enthusiasm helps him grow in both putting skills and confidence, while developing an outlook that's all his own. The author of Ms. Bixby's Last Day (2016) and Posted (2017), Anderson divides the novel into 18 chapters, one for each hole of the championship game. Malcolm narrates, musing on the hole's challenges, then looking back and telling the next segment of his absorbing story. The scenes of his parents' bickering are described with sensitivity to every nuance of speech and body language. Readers will cheer when Malcolm finally comes into his own. A well-crafted, emotionally resonant book, brightened by irrepressible wit. Grades 4-7. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.

Shy, imaginative, lonely Malcolm Greeley, 12, has absorbed the message that he's not good enough so fully that it's become a voice in his head, predicting he'll fail, blaming him after it happens. When it comes to Little League, the voice sounds suspiciously like his dad's, a former college athlete. Malcolm enjoys beating his dad playing miniature golf at Fritz's, a shabby, quirkily furnished venue, until his dad enters him in a tournament, hiring a former nationally ranked golfer to coach him. Malcolm glumly accedes—the subject of his parents' mounting arguments, Malcolm tries to avoid triggering them. Seedy and out of shape, coach Frank has hidden depths and, like Lex, the girl Malcolm meets at Fritz's, helps Malcolm see his world differently. Major characters are white; several names suggest Asian ancestry. Structured like a golf game and employing golf analogies—with plenty of context for non–golf-conversant readers—the novel cuts between the tournament Malcolm's currently playing and his journey to it. The voices he hears are not mental illness markers but opinions and beliefs he's internalized. At its best, the novel is first-rate, masterf ully conveying Malcolm's anxious monitoring of rising marital conflict he's at a loss to fix. Lex is a compelling character, comfortable in her skin, and rewardingly, Frank defies expectations. Watching Malcolm free himself from his need to fix others' problems is exhilarating even if the neat ending partly undermines that message. Droll, moving, resonant. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2020 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.

Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2020 Follett School Solutions