A spirited debut of a rising basketball star wrestling with his town’s outsized expectations and his family’s complicated legacy
Everyone seems to know Jimmy “Kamikaze” Kirkus, the half-white, half-Asian basketball sensation from small town Oregon. College coaches flood his mailbox with recruiting letters, Sports Illustrated has already profiled him, and everyone in town hangs on his every shot. But nobody can possibly fathom the weight of all this upon Jimmy’s shoulders, or the looming legacy that casts a wide shadow.
Todd “Freight Train” Kirkus seemed destined for the NBA until he impregnates Genny Mori, the tough yet fragile daughter of the only Japanese family in town. Dreams of stardom and riches are traded in for a hasty marriage and parenthood until tragedy slams the Kirkus family. Jimmy and his wisecracking little brother Dex are born into a broken family, one haunted by wasted talent, alcoholism, and death.
Like Chad Harbach’s The Art of Fielding and Friday Night Lights (the book and cult television show), Timothy Lane’s debut novel uses sports as a lens to understand family, community, catastrophe, passion, and hope. Populated with complex characters, Rules for Becoming a Legend is deftly written by an author who understands basketball as well as he understands the human condition.