REZ BALL BY BYRON GRAVES
Rez Ball by Byron Graves takes the reader into the heart of the Ojibwe community where Tre Brun is finding his way after an accident killed his brother. The story follows his resilience, shows insight into his struggles, and gives readers hope that his story will have a positive outcome. The reader is truly rooting for him! Tre has spent his summer improving his basketball skills with the goal of making the varsity team and continuing the legacy his father and brother started by taking the team to their first state championship win. He battles conflict from unaccepting teammates, racist communities, unrequited love, friendship disputes and family grief.
In his author’s note, Bryon shares that many of the elements of this story are true, and even the selections that were created for the story are based in the his experiences of growing up as an athlete on a reservation. Beyond the grief, the pressure to party, and the racism experienced, there is a beautiful story of community. Tre has the unwavering support of his lifelong friend Wes, his new acquaintance Kiana, the memory of his brother and the entire reservation.
Byron Graves’ writing is both engaging and thought-provoking, inviting readers to immerse themselves in the world of Rez Ball and gain a deeper understanding of the challenges and triumphs of Indigenous athletes. The plot and voices of the characters are a realistic depiction of teenage experience – including the curse words and slang. Rez Ball is a must-read for sports enthusiasts, as well as anyone interested in the intersection of sports, culture, and resilience. It celebrates the power of the human spirit and the transformative influence of basketball within Indigenous communities.