I’d first like to say that I’m overwhelmed by the positive response I’ve received about my novel’s theme and message from readers around the country. Your words of kindness are truly humbling.

I’m going to continue with this blog’s thread by answering another question from a reader. Veronica S. from Key Biscayne, Florida, is wondering about the book title. Here’s her email:

“Dear Mr. Leener: (I always prefer when young folks call me Craig, by the way, but I think Veronica was just being polite.) I was wondering about the title of your book. Even though it says the book isn’t about basketball, there’s quite a bit of basketball being played in it. I’m okay with that because I like basketball a lot, and I play on my team at school. I was just wondering why the title and the book’s contents seem to be at odds each other. I asked my older brother, Ernesto, but he said in a really annoying way, ‘How the heck should I know? Why don’t you ask the dude who wrote it?’ So I’m hoping you can explain it to me. Signed, Veronica.”

Well, Veronica, the sport of basketball drives the story along, but the book’s theme is that of redemption.

The word redemption is defined as “the act of making amends or atoning for a fault or mistake.”

In this case, the book’s lead character, Zeke, makes a really big blunder during the most important basketball game of his life, and that sets a whole bunch of bad stuff into motion. When Zeke eventually finds out what he has caused, he sincerely tries to make it right, mostly for the good of others.

That’s true redemption.

Toward the end of the book, an authority figure in the story teaches Zeke a vital life lesson. That person explains to Zeke that while the sport of basketball played a prominent role in recent difficult circumstances, Zeke’s inability to control his temper was the root cause of his life unraveling so spectacularly.

The story serves as a reminder that human beings are not perfect. We sometimes make mistakes that carry consequences. It’s always a good idea to avoid screwing up, but when we do, it’s equally important to recognize it and try to make it right, not only for our own sake, but for the good of those around us.

If Zeke would have failed to recognize his blunder, the world would have suffered greatly — and my novel would have been a lot shorter and not nearly as suspenseful and action-packed. Phew, that was a close call.

Veronica, thank you for taking the time to put pen to paper. It was an excellent question, and I hope I was able to clear up any confusion that you and especially Ernesto were having about the book’s title.

I’ll be on the bench until the next question arrives in the mailbox.