Book Review – Summer Ball

Summer Ball | Mike Lupica

Danny Walker #2 | 244 pages | 2007

Realistic Fiction, Sports Fiction

⭐️⭐️ – Borrow it

From the Back of the Book

“When you’re the smallest kid playing a big man’s game, the challenges never stop – especially when your name is Danny Walker. Leading your travel team to the national championship may seem like a dream come true, but for Danny, being at the top just means the competition tries that much harder to knock him off.

Now Danny’s heading to Right Way basketball camp for the summer, and he knows that with the country’s best in attendance, he’s going to need to take his game up a notch if he wants to match up. But it won’t be easy. Old rivals and new battles leave Danny wondering if he really does have what it takes to stand tall.”

Why Did I Read This Book?

I am participating in Reading Bingo alongside my students this semester. I find enjoyment in reading books and sharing my thoughts about each one through a review. I am claiming the “Person, place, or…” Reading Bingo square. “Summer ball” is referenced throughout the book as a noun and “ball” is a noun, as well.


Mike Lupica is a sports writer who made the reader feel like they were playing in the game with his detailed play-by-play action. His vocabulary and word choice would be accessible and not too specific to someone with a working knowledge of the game of basketball:

  • “Kareem made the first free throw, missed the second, Tarik got the rebound, Danny came and got the ball. Bulls 65, Celtics 64” (153).
  • “Left-hand dribble, then right. Then left and right again. Two lightning crossovers that did exactly what they were supposed to: staple-gun Jack’s feet to the floor” (202)

During the first few games, I was on the edge of my seat, wanting to know how Danny and his team were going to do. During those first few games, Danny was always making mistakes and costing his team the game. With this expectation established, I would think to myself, “Why all this detail if Danny is going to blow it at the end?” With this consistent disappointment, the detailed play-by-play got old after a while. Lupica would go on and on with every single play that occurred in every single game. I found myself skimming the gameplay details, looking for a different ending to the game in order to spice up the plotline.

Thankfully, Lupica was able to capture more than just the elements of a basketball game in great detail. Important plot developments were also provided in great detail, like when we meet Tess, Danny’s crush early in the book. Rather than brush over the scene, Lupica added small details to make the scene as realistic as the ball game.

“Danny watched her come toward him … She dropped her racket in the grass, next to his big bottle of blue Gatorade” (21).

The added details of “grass” and “big bottle of blue Gatorade” allowed me to picture the scene in my mind. I was also able to recall the taste of “blue Gatorade” having been a student-athlete in high school and enjoying “blue Gatorade” frequently after practice.


Summer Ball would be an excellent book for a teen student-athlete interested in sports, especially basketball. Their ability to relate to the teen drama would be easier to understand than myself a twenty-something. The drama is focused on bullying, relationships, and life’s lessons. I found the book to be predictable and certain events were drawn out, like basketball games and problems that Danny and his friends encounter while at camp. Teen student-athletes would enjoy these drawn out elements more than I due to their own experiences on and off the court.

Happy Reading!

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