All Roads Lead to Lawrence
by Craig Leener
Green Buffalo Press

"And it’s through basketball that I measure my life and figure out the people who are in it."

Engaging readers in a fast break followed by an easy layup and a slam dunk, author Leener returns to Zeke Archer’s world where athletic prowess plus metaphysical curiosity equip this youthful character to meet life’s challenges and obstacles. As the story opens on a basketball court in urban Los Angeles, Zeke is engaged in the biggest tournament game of his life, while his older brother Wade is dying a world away in Afghanistan: “I realized I was no longer on the basketball court. I was crouched on my haunches beneath the scorching sun. The sound of Jefferson’s pulsating crowd dissolved into a whir of truck engines. And I still had the ball.” As his team loses, and Zeke’s entire world dissolves around him, he reaches out to his autistic friend, Lawrence, a math prodigy who intercepts messages from the 7th Dimension.

It is rare that a series combines the earthiness of sports with the twist of theoretical physics, while also examining the daily grind of school, studies, work, and personal hardships. This truly original plot is centered in a credible and relatable reality, with all the odd moving parts of the existential subplot woven through like the oft-rehearsed moves of a finely-tuned basketball team. Leener handles his keen imagination and his literary gift like a professional athlete—with ease and grace.

While Zeke’s world is populated mostly by male characters, Leener has an empathic eye for females in all their permutations, too, and this story is not by any stretch of the imagination just for guys. Young women will appreciate the trials and tribulations faced by Zeke and his pals as they navigate their individual and collective paths from the world of high school into the world of young adulthood and higher education in all its forms.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

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