Book Review: Stealing the Game by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Raymond Obstfeld

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Middle-schooler Chris loves basketball. He’s perfected the art of being the strong, silent type, and even his parents don’t know how much he loves English and how he harbors a secret desire to be a master thief and comic book artist. He’s used to always being the second best behind his straight-A, sports star, Mr. Popularity, big brother Jax.

Then, Jax comes home from college. He’s dropped out of Stanford and seems to be in a downward spiral, drinking and gambling. Chris wants to help his brother, but he’s uncomfortable with the secrets and lies. A canny strategist, Chris quickly becomes a first rate detective as he tries to figure out what’s going on with his brother, not to mention the rash of local burglaries. Now, if he could only figure out Brooke—the girl he really likes in school!

While there is basketball throughout the book, it is by no means the central theme. Chris is complicated and believable. There are interesting side issues, like designer babies (Chris was born to save his brother’s life), shoplifting, and gambling. A surprise twist at the end may catch you off guard, and there are a few laugh-out-loud moments. Obviously, put Stealing the Game in the hands of any kid who liked sports, but it would also appeal to quiet kids, kids who are struggling with their identity, or kids who like mysteries.