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Written by Callie Labrador
This was one of those times Danny always carried around in his head, where his dad would get into a crouch, like one of those TV dads coming home from work, and our his arms out, and Danny would run into them.
Only it never seemed to happen that way.
This is an important introduction to the theme of absentee or divorced parents that is woven through the novel. Early on we realize that although Danny has come to terms with his father's shortcomings as a parent he dearly wishes for something more. He does not know how to create a physical closeness with Richie which results in their interactions being more like those of team-mates rather than parent and child, mainly because this is the realm of familiarity and comfort for Richie. This kind of relationship actually feels more awkward than natural to Danny who would far rather develop the traditional father/son dynamic he sees in movies. It also illustrates that he is missing that male role model in his life which is why he resorts to filling in most of the gaps in his knowledge about his father from Google.
Even at the age of twelve, Danny knew that Emma going through middle school and maybe even high school standing next to someone who looked like Tess Hewitt wasn't the most brilliant idea in the world.
Throughout the novel the reader sees Danny and Will alternate between being kids who revel in being kids and men who are starting to notice girls but are not actually aware of themselves doing so. Emma is Tess's best friend but not as "anything" as Tess - Tess is smarter, prettier, nicer and does everything better than Emma, so constantly spending her time next to Tess is going to make Emma noticeable for all the things she isn't instead of all the things she is. Even Danny, who is not fully aware of why he knows this, recognizes this does not bode well for her dating future.
You were always a big movie guy, Rich. But life isn't always a movie. The little guy doesn't always win the day.
This quote represents the moment in which Richie decides to form his own travel team and coach his own son to victory and also reveals the real reason Danny was left off the Vikings; Ross has harbor end a resentment of Richie for what he perceives as his fairy tale good fortune since their youth and is using Richie's son to get back at him for that. It is also interesting that this quote encapsulates the entire purpose of the novel which is to celebrate the victory of the underdog.
It's what you were always looking for from your parents, Danny had decided a long time ago, that they would show up with their good selves most of the time, in a good mood, not tired or pissed off about something at work. Or hungover. Just happy with you and the whole world.
Most children have a rosé-colored view of their parents, almost as though there are three types of people in the world; children, adults and parents. Children rarely have any reason to see their patents as people with changing and complicated emotions but rather simplified emotions - angry or not angry, grouchy or good-humoured. Danny has seen his parents in moments of extreme anger at each other, in desolation and abandonment, hungover and in need of another drink. His view of parents is sadly worldly for a twelve year old and also shows that he has already taken on some parenting of his parents in that he wants to influence their moods and make them feel better.
Danny looked at his dad and they both shook their heads sadly, that one person could be this ignorant about something as important as an official leather ball.
Basketball and sports are a bonding tool for Richie and Danny and ironically also bonds them with Danny's mother as well as her not understanding the "guy code" that places importance on sports is something they can tease her about gently. Although Danny wishes he and his dad were more parent and child than team mates it is the basketball that actually acts as a springboard to the next stage in their relationship.
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