Book 2 of the Fadeaway trilogy is just as stellar as the first. In this book, we follow Danny to Texas A&M where he is the only freshman in the starting lineup in over ten years. And this does not make him the most popular player on the team. As he starts his first year, he is just as determined to suppress and deny his sexuality as before; that is until he meets his Facebook fantasy, Sam Parker, face-to-face. Sam is immediately taken by how genuine and nerdy (and hot) the socially awkward basketball player is and Danny is drawn to Sam's outgoing personality and boldness in being out and proud. But out and proud is just not in the cards for Danny which makes a relationship with Sam impossibly difficult.
There are times you just want to shake both Danny and Sam for the things they do to each other, but that just highlights the hopeless obstacles gay players face in college and professional sports. Nobody ever tells a straight player that he can't play college sports if he is a man-slut, but throw a gay player into the mix and suddenly we need contract provisions addressing sexual deviancy. So Danny is left with trying to satisfy the normal emotional and sexual needs of a healthy young adult male while dealing with jealousies and racial tensions from fellow players in what is supposed to be a team sport.
This book is chock-full of wonderful characters. There is Danny's dad who works unfailingly to help Danny accept his sexuality. Saying that is an uphill battle is the understatement of the century, but fortunately Danny gets his stubborn streak from his dad. Nate is back as Danny's steadfast best friend, who makes a great member of the "it's ok if you're gay, Danny" team. And in this book, we meet Rod, Danny's agent who doesn't really care about Danny's sexuality but sees his job as keeping Danny on the basketball court. There are also a delicious array of evil antagonists who see their job as helping Danny derail his basketball career. And then there's Danny, who loves Sam, but does he love basketball more?
I love how the author gets down into the nitty-gritty of the game. The locker room rivalries and backstabbing teammates and the political posturing of athletic department bureaucrats and the propaganda/gossip machines that are sports reporting outlets.
An all-around great series for anyone who loves sports or if you just want to see the hoops we make people jump through to conform to artificial stereotypes.