Gr. 5-8. Eddie, 13, is thrilled to make the school basketball team, but when his grades slip, his dad is furious and makes Eddie quit the team. Tension builds until father and son are barely speaking. But why is Dad so angry? Is he hiding a secret from his past? The fourth book in the series about five friends who hang out together focuses mostly on Eddie, though there is also a lively subplot about Liz, who bonds with the cool new girl, Jasmine, and then becomes jealous of Jasmine's success. The therapeutic stuff is occasionally overdone ("I hear you, and I understand"), but there's plenty of building tension as Dad's secret is revealed and Liz competes with Jasmine in the talent show. The talk is casual and contemporary, and readers will like the family drama as well as the warmth among friends and the realistic view of failure and success. Hazel Rochman
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"compelling and touching story of a father and son who are struggling to understand each other."
"A moving and dramatic story about facing the challenges of coming of age, and the importance of family bonds."
"Kelly Starling Lyons has written a book that is very well suited for the target age group. The characters in the book are realistic and their lives and experiences will mirror the lives of many of the children who read this book. Children will be able to relate to the frustration that Eddie and his friends feel when they are simply misunderstood by the adults in their lives. In addition, Lyons did an excellent job integrating historical information into the story without taking away the plot’s contemporary relevance."
"When Eddie's progress report shows he has a D in language arts, his parents have no choice but to pull him off the basketball team. They believe strongly that grades come first, and Eddie knew the deal -- if he wanted to play basketball, he had to keep his grades up. Eddie loved basketball, and is devastated without it. When his four best friends hear about Eddie's dilemma and see him so depressed, they design a plan to help Eddie raise his grades.
Eddie's friends set up a tutoring system to support him as he tries to raise his grades. In addition, they begin to research Mr. Delaney's, (Eddie's father's) past, believing that something in his past causes him to treat Eddie so harshly. Eddie works to improve his grades, but he feels lost without basketball. He continues to fight with his father and eventually stops communicating with him altogether. When Eddie's friends learn about Mr. Delaney, they help Eddie to communicate with his father by providing him with the information they find.
Meanwhile, Liz, one of Eddie's four close friends, has problems of her own. Always known for being one of the best singers at the junior high, Liz feels intimidated and jealous of her new friend Jasmine when she hears her sing at the try-outs for the talent show. Feeling displaced and confused about her identity, Liz becomes troubled and treats Jasmine poorly.
Eddie's Ordeal presents a story of friendship, responsibility, African American culture, and overcoming differences as the friends learn about themselves and grow. The story would likely appeal to fifth through seventh graders especially reluctant readers. Kelly Starling Lyons shares a story of courage, the power of friendship, and personal responsibility.