A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist follows an embattled Little League team in inner-city Newark, New Jersey, revealing the complex realities of urban life in one of America's most dangerous cities
When Rodney Mason, an ex-con drug dealer from Newark's rough South Ward, was shot and paralyzed, he vowed to turn his life around. A former high-school pitching ace with a 93 mph fastball, Mason decided to form a Little League team to help boys avoid the street life that had claimed his youth and mobility. Predictably, the players struggle—they endure poverty, unstable family lives with few positive male role models, failing schools, and dangerous neighborhoods—but through the fists and tears, lopsided losses and rare victories, this bunch of misfits becomes a team, and in doing so gives the community something to root for. With in-depth reporting, fascinating characters, and vivid prose, Jonathan Schuppe's A Chance to Win is both a penetrating, true-to-life portrait of what's at stake for kids growing up poor in America's inner cities and a portrait of Newark itself, a struggling city that has recently known great hope as well as failure.
Newark Star-Ledger journalist and Pulitzer Prize winner Schuppe expands on one of his articles with this story of a former drug dealer, Rodney, whose last name is never used. Rodney was a pitching phenom from Newark, N.J.'s South Ward; he was also a drug dealer by the time he was 14, and baseball was soon forgotten, but he "managed to keep his adult criminal record clean until he was nineteen." His life spiraled downward until he was shot and partially paralyzed by a jealous boyfriend, after which he formed a neighborhood Little League team that was recognized as a beacon of hope in the "most violent part of Newark." Schuppe's prose is as unadorned as the bleak, urban landscape that he constructs, and it mirrors the difficult lives of his subjects. Redemption comes hard in the South Ward, though, and Schuppe's personal involvement compromises his objectivity and leaves him vulnerable to Rodney the dealer, an aspect that renders the story as much about Schuppe and Newark, a "national emblem of urban dysfunction," as it is about baseball and redemption.
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This book is worth reading immediately!
I cannot believe this book has no reviews! I purchased this book a few weeks ago and it was a page turner. Once I started I could not stop. Thank goodness I had it on my iPhone and iPad because I could not stop reading it. The subject matter is just incredible. The honest writing and riveting stories of these 4 individuals is addictive. Although the meat of the book is the life stories it interweaves the history of Newark, basic childhood dreams and a sense of hope.
I read only non fiction works and this one is one of the best that I have read.
I don't want to give anything away but purchase this book - you won't be sorry!