The Basketball Diaries Book Summary and Study Guide

Detailed plot synopsis reviews of The Basketball Diaries

In the midst of the Cold War, war in Vietnam, race riots in New York City, and a turning point in American culture between "Leave It to Beaver" and Woodstock, Jim Carroll began writing his "basketball diaries" at the age of 12. He's an all-city basketball star at an ivy league prep school leading a double life, experimenting with drugs, getting hooked, hustling gay men to support what will become an epic heroin addiction, and . . . becoming a poet. This is an incredibly funny book as well as a remarkable document of a key period in American culture -- but read it for the language! Even better, read it and then listen to the audio book read by Carroll.
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The review of this Book prepared by Cassie Carter

It is 1964 in New York City's Lower East Side of Manhattan. Jim Carroll, the teenage diarist, records his games as a basketball star in his diaries. Something happens to him,
and he mistakes the fact (as he explains to his mother)
that it's actually heroin you can get addicted to, not marijuana. So he causally
begins to skin-pop heroin, then inject it directly into his veins with a needle. He is
laughing at that old junkie phrase about the monkey being on his back. But
it is no laugh to him when he runs out, and gets the skin creeps, and the fever,
and the chills. His addiction increases, and Jim, while he stills attends high school,
and high school games, increasingly turns to the underground life. He supports his
habit by selling his body to gay men, calling it "perversion for profit". Eventually, he
lands in Rikers, a prison, for a month. But this does not reform him, and in the end,
he's on the nod, "looking for something pure".

The review of this Book prepared by Joan Clare

Chapter Analysis of The Basketball Diaries

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Plot & Themes

Tone of book?    -   upbeat Time/era of story    -   1960's-1970's Kids growing up/acting up?    -   Yes Internal struggle/realization?    -   Yes Is this an adult or child's book?    -   Adult or Young Adult Book Age group of kid(s) in story:    -   high school Something wrong upstairs/downstairs?    -   searching for identity/meaning Wild kid(s)?    -   druggie culture (& crime) Drinking/Drugs problems?    -   drugs Love problems?    -   gay guy urges

Main Character

Gender    -   Male Profession/status:    -   student    -   sports figure Age:    -   a teen Ethnicity/Nationality    -   White (American)    -   Irish


How much descriptions of surroundings?    -   10 () City?    -   Yes City:    -   New York Misc setting    -   sewers/subways

Writing Style

Sex in book?    -   Yes What kind of sex:    -   vague references only    -   touching of anatomy    -   licking    -   lesbians!    -   actual description of hetero sex    -   Boob talk!    -   Vagia talk!    -   Weiner talk!    -   two guys doing it    -   rape/molest Lot of foul language?    -   Yes Amount of dialog    -   significantly more descript than dialog

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