Sooley
by Grisham, John






After seventeen-year-old Samuel "Sooley" Sooleymon receives a college scholarship to play basketball for North Carolina Central, he moves to Durham from his native, war-torn South Sudan, enrolls in classes, joins the team, and prepares to sit out his freshman season, but Sooley has a fierce determination to succeed so he can bring his family to America, working tirelessly on his game until he dominates everyone in practice, and when Sooley is called off the bench, the legend begins.





It's no secret that Grisham is a baseball fan, but it's not as well known that he's also an enthusiastic follower of college basketball. In his new novel, he tells the story of 17-year-old Samuel Sooleymon, a Sudanese boy who, like so many of his friends, dreams of playing basketball in the U.S. Unlike many of those friends, Sooley sees his dream come true, only to be hit by tragedy: a civil war brings devastation to his South Sudanese village, and Sooley finds himself, all the way on the other side of the world, fighting to be the best basketball player he can be so he can save his family. It's an intensely moving story, told with the same eye for character and descriptive detail Grisham brings to his crime novels. His occasional forays into general fiction are usually interesting, but this one is considerably more than that. It's skillfully written, with a deeply compelling central character and a story that is full of raw emotion and suspense. A film version seems almost obligatory, but don't wait for that.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Any new Grisham novel draws readers across genres, and this one will add sports fans to his legion of devotees. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





It's no secret that Grisham is a baseball fan, but it's not as well known that he's also an enthusiastic follower of college basketball. In his new novel, he tells the story of 17-year-old Samuel Sooleymon, a Sudanese boy who, like so many of his friends, dreams of playing basketball in the U.S. Unlike many of those friends, Sooley sees his dream come true, only to be hit by tragedy: a civil war brings devastation to his South Sudanese village, and Sooley finds himself, all the way on the other side of the world, fighting to be the best basketball player he can be so he can save his family. It's an intensely moving story, told with the same eye for character and descriptive detail Grisham brings to his crime novels. His occasional forays into general fiction are usually interesting, but this one is considerably more than that. It's skillfully written, with a deeply compelling central character and a story that is full of raw emotion and suspense. A film version seems almost obligatory, but don't wait for that.HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Any new Grisham novel draws readers across genres, and this one will add sports fans to his legion of devotees. Copyright 2021 Booklist Reviews.





Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball. What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss‚?"dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone‚??s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn‚??t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believable hero in Samuel Sooleymon, who plays his way out of South Sudan, a nation wrought by sectarian violence‚?"Sooley is a Dinka, Grisham instructs, of "the largest ethnic class in the country," pitted against other ethnic groups‚?"and mired in poverty despite the relative opulence of the capital city of Juba, with its "tall buildings, vibrancy, and well-dressed people." A hard-charging but heart-of-gold coach changes his life when he arrives at the university there, having been dismissed earlier as a "nonshooting guard." Soon enough Sooley is sinking three-pointers with alarming precision, which lands him a spot on an American college team. Much of the later portion of Grisham‚??s novel bounces between Sooley‚??s on-court exploits, jaw-dropping as they are, and his efforts to bring his embattled family, now refugees from civil war, to join him in the U.S.; explains Grisham, again, "Beatrice and her children were Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan, and their strongman was supposedly in control of most of the country," though evidently not the part where they lived. Alas, Sooley, beloved of all, bound for a glorious career in the NBA, falls into the bad company that sudden wealth and fame can bring, and it all comes crashing down in a morality play that has only the virtue of bringing this tired narrative to an end. Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.





Legal eagle and mystery maven Grisham shifts gears with a novel about roundball. What possessed Grisham to stop writing about murder in the Spanish moss‚?"dripping milieus of the Deep South is anyone‚??s guess, and why he elected to write about basketball, one might imagine, speaks to some deep passion for the game. The depth of that love doesn‚??t quite emerge in these pages, flat of affect, told almost as if a by-the-numbers biography of an actual player. As it is, Grisham invents an all-too-believable hero in Samuel Sooleymon, who plays his way out of South Sudan, a nation wrought by sectarian violence‚?"Sooley is a Dinka, Grisham instructs, of "the largest ethnic class in the country," pitted against other ethnic groups‚?"and mired in poverty despite the relative opulence of the capital city of Juba, with its "tall buildings, vibrancy, and well-dressed people." A hard-charging but heart-of-gold coach changes his life when he arrives at the university there, having been dismissed earlier as a "nonshooting guard." Soon enough Sooley is sinking three-pointers with alarming precision, which lands him a spot on an American college team. Much of the later portion of Grisham‚??s novel bounces between Sooley‚??s on-court exploits, jaw-dropping as they are, and his efforts to bring his embattled family, now refugees from civil war, to join him in the U.S.; explains Grisham, again, "Beatrice and her children were Dinka, the largest tribe in South Sudan, and their strongman was supposedly in control of most of the country," though evidently not the part where they lived. Alas, Sooley, beloved of all, bound for a glorious career in the NBA, falls into the bad company that sudden wealth and fame can bring, and it all comes crashing down in a morality play that has only the virtue of bringing this tired narrative to an end. Unlike baseball, basketball has contributed little to world literature. Call this Exhibit A. Copyright Kirkus 2021 Kirkus/BPI Communications. All rights reserved.






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