Rocket Man

Jan L. Coates
Young Adult
Target Age
6-12 , 12-18

What’s in a name? Pretty well everything, especially when your name is Bob but your cute little sister calls you Bobby, your perfect older brother calls you Stick-boy, the school bully calls you Blob, and the name you call yourself is Mr. Invisible. Bob Prescott wants nothing more than making the Division 1 school basketball team, but he’s not tall enough and not quite good enough. He and his family are struggling under the crushing weight of his father’s brain cancer and the painful cycle of up one day and down the next. Bob channels his desperation and sadness into his basketball training and finds a way to bring hope to his family and others living with cancer. His determination and courage on the basketball court and in the rest of his life help him grow into his new nickname: Rocket Man.

Jan. L. Coates, an accomplished and versatile writer, gets so much right in Rocket Man.  Her technical descriptions of playing basketball are excellent; she goes right inside the yearning, awkward, striving and inevitably belching body of a 14-year-old boy; she nails the experience of trying to avoid a persistent bully; she captures the first flutters of boy-girl attraction and she aces the complicated family dynamics of people living with a life-threatening illness. Although the resolution and ending happen rather quickly, Rocket Man is a heartfelt, exciting read with an endearing hero who plays to his strength and wins.