Tim decides to spend a week with his grandparents in the inner city of Providence, Rhode Island. His friends suggest this might not be a good decision, but he goes anyway with the idea he can spend his time playing basketball at the court in the Cranston Street Projects. He is befriended by Marcus, the best basketball player in the projects. But Marcus and his sister are in danger from Pele, the drug dealer on Cranston Street. Tim is thrust into danger when a rival drug dealer, Raja, tries to take Pele’s turf. He survives a drive by murder, but it is clear that Raja cannot leave witnesses. In the course of hiding out, Tim comes to realize that his preconceptions about being black in the ghettos of the inner city are completely off-base. He begins to understand that he has his own racist ideas. Can Tim survive being hunted and change the way he thinks about black people? (Summary via Goodreads)
Growing up my older brother played basketball, for our church and for the high school team. I spent many days and evenings going to watch my brother run from one end of a gym to the other end with a group of other tall, skinny boys dribbling a ball and throwing it at a basket……. knowing the game and the commitment these boys had did nothing to prepare in reading The Providence of Basketball by Rick Collins.
Basketball means a lot to the main character Tim. Readers start off with Tim in his hometown of Beaumont, Massachusetts where he is playing basketball with his friends. He tells his friends that he is leaving to go visit his grandparents in Providence, Rhode Island for a week. They question him and get concerned because the neighborhood where Tim’s grandparents live is mostly a black neighborhood….and Tim is white. Tim, having a few black friends, doesn’t think nothing of it and his friends try to explain how serious the situation will be.
Tim leaves for his week long visitation with his grandparents. They live across the street from a park and Tim just wants to go there and play some basketball. After dinner with his grandparents he goes across the street to the park to watch the guys playing basketball and hopes that he can get in a game. Luckily for Tim one of the teams opens up needing a player and they call on him to join their team. Little does Tim know that by doing this he is getting himself into the middle of something.
Being a “white boy” has never made more of a difference that it did that one week spending time with his grandparents. His grandparents and their one neighbor, Mr. Beauchamp, are the only white people still living in the neighborhood. And they refuse to leave because that is their home. Tim doesn’t quite understand how important it is to them until he has been there for a few days……
Everything changes after Tim plays that one game of basketball being the only white person there. He becomes friends with a group of neighborhood kids and sees how things really are in the neighborhood……from drugs to violence……and everything he thought he knew about people and the world totally changes in a matter of a few days.
To say readers will get an eye-opening experience while reading The Providence of Basketball is an understatement. Readers will walk away from this story really thinking about the world Tim lived in and the world we live in today. There will be a lot of questions that come to mind while reading this story.
Collins knows how to tell a story and keep readers on the edge of their seats. It is sad and scary to read The Providence of Basketball, readers cannot help but feel for ALL the people affected in this story…..regardless of the color of their skin, way they live, or how much money they have. Collins has readers feeling sorry for everyone affected throughout the story at different times of the story. Readers will be moved and emotional when they do finish this story…….and that is exactly what a good author and a good story does.
Review by Missi M.