A group of troubled but charismatic boys in a tough Buffalo, NY neighborhood play basketball at a local park and dream of winning a state high school championship. Driven by raw talent and killer instinct, they dominate the court, but everywhere else, they feel like losers.
HAMMOND is told through the eyes of James Lombardi, a precocious but mentally ill boy who believes winning a championship will ease his “Evil Thoughts” and save his family, long haunted by generations of substance abuse, uncontrollable rage, and suicide.
A dark but humorous coming-of-age novel, HAMMOND offers a poetic and disturbing look inside the complex mind of an adolescent boy as he slowly learns that having the heart of a champion can sometimes be more burden than blessing.
“Earnest, hardscrabble story of restless youth, mental illness, and the saving grace of sports-inspired camaraderie . . . Compelling . . . successfully captures the anger, frustration, and freedom of kids on the brink of adulthood.”
“Lingers in the mind far after its conclusion . . . replete with interpersonal interactions, personal revelations, and an overlay of mental illness perspective rare in a coming-of-age story. Readers who look for compelling sagas of mental illness struggles will find Hammond a revealing standout in the literature which grabs the reader’s attention and swings through a life that too often feels stuck. Few stories can capture this gritty and stark existence, and Hammond is reminiscent of the classic I Never Promised You A Rose Garden, with its powerful, introspective view of an evolving (and, sometimes, devolving) young man.”
“Succeeds on many levels, LaPoma’s use of James, a mentally ill youth troubled by the destructive tendencies of his family, as the central character is laudable. His unique worldview gives the narrative an unforgettable flavor. Fans of Jim Carroll’s Basketball Diaries will find many similar themes in this book . . . These boys are dealing with everything from bullying to basketball, drugs, sex, faith and favoritism. Lapoma does a good job catching the bravado and fears of this age. In addition, he records the internal struggles and confusion of his protagonist in realistic and abundant detail . . . Readers who enjoy a coming-of-age tale with lots of introspection will likely find this book a good match.”
“This is the book that marks Jonathan LaPoma as my favorite underrated author . . . One of the most genuinely emotional novels I have read in a hot minute . . . So emotionally in-depth that at times I felt I was getting overwhelmed by ghosts of my own depression. I don’t remember the last book I read that had so much truth and understanding packed into its words (perhaps it was The Summer of Crud) . . . Hammond is truly a masterpiece of the coming-of-age genre. My biggest hope for this book is that it gets the attention it deserves.”
“As raw and unfiltered as any coming-of-age book I have ever read . . . lingers in the mind long after finishing it, and I for one am looking forward to reading more from LaPoma in the future.”
“The characters are well structured and the plot is thick, making Hammond a great book for those looking for a read that takes you into a whole other world (so to speak).”
“The author did a great job with characterization and voice. The drama and angst was very well done as well. I prayed for them to win the basketball championship so they could have something good happen in their lives. Did they win? Did they lose? You’ll have to read the book to find out.
I RECOMMEND the book to read.”