Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Adrian Wojnarowski, THE MIRACLE OF ST. ANTHONY

It looks like a basketball book, which isn't my usual pick. But the story is really an underdog tale about a high school (St. Anthony's) in New Jersey that, with very few financial resources but one very determined coach named Bob Hurley, keeps kids out of gangs and churns out amazing basketball players year after year, including Hurley's own son. The chapters aren't really sequential--I found myself wanting to follow particular students of interest, but they sort of fade in and out, around stories about Cindy (Bob's wife) going into the hospital and other events. I also felt that the "pep talks" that Hurley gives are in a different language from my own. Or the excerpts are odd, as if they're taken out of context. Or maybe I just don't understand basketball pep talks. Like this one: "Freakin' Mosby. This is a character issue right now. Well, you better fuckin' grow up. Because if this continues in the North Jersey championship game, we lose." There's one point where Beanie (one of the players) says of Hurley, "He's really confusing." I felt sort of the same way, but I have to admire a coach who sticks with a penniless program, when he could have coached college for more money and prestige, and keeps these kids on track as well as he does.

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