Book Review: The Cortlandt Boys, by Laura Vanderkam.
Thank you very much to author Laura Vanderkam for my copy of this book. I am happy to share my thoughts in this review.
A small town high school basketball team wins the Pennsylvania state championship with an improbable last second three point shot. The Cortlandt Cavaliers celebrate their unlikely victory, but good fortune changes the boys’ worlds in unpredictable ways. This story revisits the characters 10 and 20 years later as the ramifications of their youthful success play out over the course of their lives, forever linking them and the people around them to this little town that has its ways of not quite letting you go.
When I first read the description of this book, I was expecting similarities to the hit t.v series One Tree Hill. That was what initially drew me to this book, as I loved the series. Just to make it clear though, the book was nothing like it!
The book is set in four parts.
The Prologue, which is told from Max’s point of view between 1993 and 1994. We get an introduction to all the characters here and a basic overview of what has happened. The Cortlandt Cavaliers have just won the state championship basketball game.
Part One is told also from Max’s point of view between 2003 and 2004. She comes back to Cortlandt after moving away, as a journalist to interview the boys from the team ten years after they won the championship. She wants to find out what everybody has been up to since then and their thoughts ten years after the game.
Part Two is told from Janie’s point of view between 2013 and 2014. This is twenty years after the big game. Janie is now 17 years old.
The Epilogue is told from Janie’s point of view, and gives a conclusion to the story and the characters we have grown to know while reading the book.
This book is the author’s first fiction book, Laura Vanderkam has written lots of non fiction books before. I’m not sure if this has had an impact on the way that she writes, but the writing style was different to what I have read before. It is written with such a great insight into human nature, like she really knows the characters and the way their minds work, the things they would say, the decisions they have made. I did think at one point, is she writing from past experience. But having spoken to the author on Twitter, she assures me that the story is completely fiction. I have to hugely congratulate her on her insight of human nature.
The story talks about basketball, a bit of mystery and a bit of romance. I’m not a fan of sports reading and the basketball scenes were not my favourite part of the book. However, because the story is about this huge life changing event, which is winning the state championship, I think the author did a good job of keeping the non sports fans interested.
I liked when I got to the mystery part of the book. It kept me gripped to see what had happened and who was to blame for the incident……..
The characters in this book are fantastic. As I mentioned before, the author has such an insight to human nature. A great quote from the book is from Max, when she is thinking about writing her article about the Cortlandt Boys ten years later, she thinks:
“What is life like when the biggest thing that will ever happen to you happens when you are seventeen?”
This quote does reflect the book well, I think.
My favourite character is Janie, she is a very intriguing character, she says herself that she likes to think of herself as unpredictable! I think she is a product of her upbringing and the things that happened to her and her parents while she was young. There is a very interesting part of the book about Janie’s ‘friend’ who lives in the hotel. Watch out for it!
The author also participated in a Twitter chat last week, where she spoke of her book, the writing process and the difference between writing fiction and non fiction. If you want to go and read the chat, use the # of #CortlandtBoys.
She also blogs daily at LauraVanderkam.com.
If you have read this book or are planning to read this book, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.
Thanks for reading and until next time, Happy Reading!