Book Review: All Roads Lead to Lawrence by Craig Leener

ARLTL Cover

All Roads Lead to Lawrence 
Craig Leener 
Green Buffalo Press, 2019 

♦♦♦♦ 
4 Stars

 

Craig Leener revisits his character Zeke Archer (This Was Never About Basketball) in All Roads Lead To Lawrence giving readers an opportunity to experience further growth and challenges in “finding their place in the world and embracing how they have, must, and will change as a person.

Sudden appearances by friends, family, strangers, and what can most easily be called otherworldly beings pepper Zeke’s life. These people and entities guide Zeke, ushering him along down a path he can only every just barely make out. Although trepidation shadows Zeke, he follows their lead giving himself over to fate. As he does do, he absorbs life lessons allowing him to forge his own way.

Not so much a sequel as a continuation, All Roads Lead To Lawrence picks up Zeke’s story not long after the events of This Was Never About Basketball. Readers get the same skilled and easy prose from Leener as he beautiful describes the grace and speed of playing basketball from his protagonist’s point of view. As he does so, we are ushered into the otherworldly connection Zeke has with the so-called ‘7th Dimension’ (at once alien, ghost or spirit, and divine power). It is a connection that burns brightest when Zeke experiences personal trauma or tragedy, which is where the novel begins. On the court, at a crucial comeback moment, Zeke experiences visceral nightmare flashes. Glimpses, into his older brother Wade’s death as a marine.

Or is it? Once again Zeke must go on a quest, and once again he his buttressed by the savant Lawrence and the confounding entity from the 7th dimension as they pass into a portal to yet another realm seeking answers.

Leener writes easily digestible chapters reading quickly but nearly always loaded with portent. He has a special skill in drawing out the internal life of Zeke through his character’s conversations with others. The game of basketball is most certainly the tip-off, if you will, of the story, but Leener is once again able to make his novel about so much more than the sport while never letting go an opportunity to relate the decisions, learning, and experience of the game impact not just his characters but readers as well. This is what Zeke means when, in the very opening of the novel, he tells us, “My stories always begin with basketball. And it’s through basketball that I measure my life and figure out the people who are in it.” 

The journey Zeke goes on in this new novel starts this way but takes him in directions he (nor readers) could ever imagine emerging at the other end with many questions but more sure of his own ability to find answers. Craig Leener provides young readers with yet another engaging work.

 

About the Author

Craig Leener

Craig Leener got his start in organized basketball at the age of nine in a Southern California YMCA youth league on a team called the Monsters. He later secured a roster spot on the varsity squad at Van Nuys High School, where he was considered to be the thirteenth-best basketball player on a team of thirteen players.

Craig earned an associate degree in liberal arts from Los Angeles Valley College and a bachelor’s degree in radio, TV, and film from California State University, Northridge. While at CSUN, he served as a board operator at campus radio station KCSN 88.5 FM, engineering live broadcasts of men’s basketball games. Today he sits on the board of directors of CSUN’s Journalism Alumni Association, where he mentors student journalists.

Craig worked in human resources management within the entertainment industry for many years before landing his dream job as a sports journalist at The Signal newspaper in Santa Clarita, California. One summer, while working as a staff writer for The Signal, he traveled to every Major League Baseball stadium with his son, Zachary, delivering a series of articles from the road on fathers and sons and baseball.

Craig is a member of the North Valley Family YMCA in northern Los Angeles County and lives in the suburbs of Los Angeles with his wife, Andrea, and their two mischievous but well-meaning dogs, Sophie and Beau. He purports to be an eighty-seven-percent free-throw shooter on his backyard home court, a claim that has never been independently verified.

He is a passionate, lifelong opponent of the instant replay in sports.

Craig Leener is the author of THIS WAS NEVER ABOUT BASKETBALL, Book 1 of the bestselling Zeke Archer basketball saga, and its sequel, ALL ROADS LEAD TO LAWRENCE.

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