Snowball - Brothers 4 Life
Reviewed By: The Editorial Board
The Editorial Board of The Columbia Review accepts submissions from authors, publishers, directors, agents, producers and fans.

“Snowball – Brothers 4 Life” by Christopher Spence is a coming of age/coming out novel that explores the unique yet universal young adult experience. It successfully weaves deeply important societal issues (homophobia, racism, mental health) in an engaging and thought-provoking read.

The book follows the lives of Jake Bradley, who is the star point guard for the undefeated Westside Academy, and his best friend Mac. Jake and Mac, teammates and “brothers for life,” have long been nearly inseparable and are incredibly close both on and off the court. But their relationship is challenged when Jake begins to develop romantic feelings for Mac’s sister, Willow, and Mac has a shocking revelation that suddenly renders him an outsider.

“… Jake and Willow were the only ones in the world who knew Mac’s secret. Mac was afraid that his dad wouldn’t accept him, and the three were at that age where being different in any way could make you stand out in a bad way, so they all kept quiet about it, even though Willow and Jake both knew that Mac wasn’t being himself.”

Author Christopher Spence eloquently follows the characters’ attempts, through roller coasters of emotion, to endure through the pain of romantic love, dominating parents, hurtful gossip, unexpected death, and the ever present uncertainty about themselves, their true identities, and the future ahead. The pain, conflict and emotional struggles are artfully presented with high realism and sensitivity. For example:

“Willow’s words caught in her throat and she couldn’t keep speaking. Words, just words. They weren’t enough. No turn of phrase or string of heartfelt sentences could really express her pain… The whirlwind of emotions inside of her was so strong and so forceful that she felt she was being ripped apart. Nothing in her life had ever hurt this much.”

The basketball court becomes a metaphor for life in this gripping, emotional, and thought-provoking novel that explores unresolved issues of race, gender, and sexual orientation. The characters’ struggles to re-conceptualize all that they thought they knew about life, family, and friendship provoke the reader to explore these deeply sociological issues and to come away with a deeper understanding and acceptance of the differences that define us. An absorbing, important book that should not be missed!