I just recently finished reading this book and, since chapter one, was taken by the amount of work the author must have done during this project. The men and women, highlighted in this true-life story of families, struggles, successes, failures and perseverance, become like family to the author due to his complete devotion to the story. This devotion appears to border on obsession as we read how the author becomes steeped in the every day lives of these people we come to know very well. It's almost as if the reader is sitting in on their conversations and riding the same emotional roller coaster that seems to confront each person on an almost daily basis. Interestingly enough, the book contains no real conclusion, a seemingly egregious error by the author. However, taking the work as a whole, the lack of a logical conclusion does not detract from a well-written, engrossing story of a group of people struggling to find their way confronting rather difficult circumstances. In fact, it seems entirely unnecessary. Readers are left to wonder, hope and pray for these people. Well done, I highly recommend the book
Jonathan Schuppe tells a poignant story about the struggle of drug addiction, poverty and inequality that continues to plague the poorest neighborhoods in the city of Newark. It's a story that highlights the difficult life of a struggling ex-drug addicted coach and a ragtag little league team who manage to overcome life's most overwhelming adversities. Rodney, the little league coach, against all odds, turns his life around by helping kids experience being part of a little league team. Not only is this an eye-opening look at a problem in Newark, but most likely, also an underserved national problem. A Chance to Win is also a close-up view of the struggle of children, whose lives can be made better with the right kind of caring and role modeling. I loved this book.
this non-fiction book written by a former reporter for the Star Ledger, uses the story of one man's quest to better the lives of Newark children through softball. The protagnist is quadripalegic and bears many scars from a life of drug dealing and unfortunate choices. His goal to mentor and imbue these youngster with a love of the game which had been his one shining light growing up is poignant. Jonathon Schuppe chose to highlight the lives of a few of the youngsters and their families for this book. The idea for a fully developed non-fiction book evolved as a result of a story that was written for the paper, and there were times I felt the information was repetitive and better editing could have prevailed. However, this is a most timely book in the wake of the recent Trayvon Martin trial and aquittal of George Zimmerman. The struggles of being young, black and poor in a city that cannot properly school its young people is one of the themes which would be a good book for that larger "discussion of race" in our country.
Jonathan Schuppe's "A Chance to Win" is a chance to see what life is like in an inner-city environment today in this country. It is, by turns, sad, joyful, depressing, hopeful. I hope he writes a sequel to this because I didn't want to read the last pages and know I would have to leave those who populate the pages of this book and not know what has become of them in real life. Rodney is a powerful man and Schuppe lets us know him so well as a person who cares and "stands up" for kids who might otherwise be forgotten. As a reader, I will never forget him or the children he influenced and dedicated himself to for so long.
Jonathan Schuppe's book is a moving story about what's been called "the other America": a place where children barely in their teens routinely confront unspeakable loss and grief; where adults feel, with some justice, that the system is stacked against them; and where the public institutions -- especially the schools -- that should offer an escape route too often compound generations of failure. Though framed as a baseball story, it's more a story about parenting -- and growing up -- against the odds, and it has the shagginess of real life: the narrative arc isn't tidy, and the reader closes the book uncertain how its protagonists will fare in another year, or another decade. Still, despite much here that is very sad, the indomitable spirit of Schuppe's real-life characters offers a spark of hope that they, and we, will eventually find the path to a better future.
From the first line of this book, Schuppe pulls you in to the story of Rodney, Derek, DeWan, Taiquan, and the rest of the coaches, kids, and dads on this inner-city Little League team. He brings depth and complexity to what could be a heard-it-all-before narrative about lives affected by drugs, violence, and family ties lost and found. No one's tale is simple; there is no neat narrative arc ending in perfect redemption. These lives are real, and intricate, and Schuppe gets right in there, like the crime reporter he used to be. At some point he made the decision to insert himself into the story, as a friend and helper to several of the book's participants; as a reader I felt relieved. The stories here are so artfully told that I felt invested in each of these boys and men, and I was glad to see that sometimes the author comes right out and says to his subjects the very thing I was thinking.
But far more than a simple story about what happened at one time to a group of people, Schuppe's book addresses bigger issues: How do you safely raise your kids in a place where gun violence is a daily issue? What happens to shooting victims long after they've gone through recovery and rehab? What is the role of the father in shaping a young boy's life and direction? Why are there no longer black heroes in baseball? Without being preachy, Schuppe makes you think about each of these questions, and leaves you thinking very differently about the stories we gloss over daily in the local news.
I couldn't put this book down, and I only wish I had photos of each of these great guys so I could put faces to names. I feel like I know them so well, I hope someday to read an update on where each of these people ends up.