Girl meets ball, boy, and world in approximately that order in Dana Czapnik’s electrifying debut novel, The Falconer — a frank, bittersweet coming-of-age story that crackles with raw adolescent energy, fresh-cut prose, and a kinetic sense of place.
It’s 1993, and self-proclaimed “pizza bagel” Lucy Adler — she’s half-Jewish, half-Italian — is 17, staring down her senior year at the elite Manhattan prep school her middle-class bohemian parents have scraped together to afford. She’s a good student, but her overriding passion is basketball: the sport that owns nearly all her afternoons, weekends, and waking dreams. Her second passion is Percy, the childhood best friend and street-court teammate whose presence suddenly makes her stutter. Percy glides through the world with the oblivious ease that good looks and family money have blessed him with; Lucy is less lucky, painfully aware of how poorly her sharp words and natural athleticism serve her in the social order of New York City’s brutal youth.
But even as she longs to conform to some impossible feminine ideal, there’s a bigger part of her that knows what she has — all those unfiltered feelings and ungainly bones — will serve her better one day. And Czapnik, a seasoned sportswriter, has written exactly the book that every smart, strange, wonderful teenage weirdo like Lucy deserves. A-
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