Superb sports fiction writing! Author Paul Volponi captures the drive, intensity, personalities, and dynamics of basketball in his novel The Final Four. Volponi masterfully avoids two pitfalls that are common to this type of book. First, sports fiction often slips into a mere play-by-play or statistical recounting of game action; The Final Four does not feel like a mere radio script of a game announcer. This is achieved through a fantastic mix of sports commentators, newspaper clippings, journal entries, flashbacks, and switches in viewpoint among four key players on opposing teams. Often this mixed approach (the second pitfall) is the kiss of death for a novel, but Volponi does a phenomenal job of pulling it off. The Final Four is real, poignant, personal, taunt, and accurately captures the personalities, passions, and motivations of the players. A marvelous guy read for young adults, especially anyone who has been on the basketball court.
Profanity/Language: 22 mild obscenities; 3 derogatory names; 14 scatological words; 13 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: General references to war in Croatia; 2nd hand, non-detailed report of gang attacking someone; 2nd hand, non-detailed report of a drive-by shooting resulting in death; report of a death of a parent in an accident; report of a death in a car bombing; characters have a brief fist fight.
Sex/Nudity: Report characters kissed; reference to condom (a language misunderstanding by a foreign student); stated that a girl “comes” on to someone at a party; reference to someone as a “hottie” and how a lady dresses.
Mature Subject Matter:
Racism, Poverty/Economic Disparity, War, Hurricane Katrina, Death of a Family Member.
Alcohol / Drug Use:
A character sees drug-dealing occurring in his neighborhood; there is a teenage party where alcohol is being consumed; character says he drank beer when he was 15; there is beer at a college party.