Free Throws, Friendship, and Other Things We Fouled Up (Hardcover)

Free Throws, Friendship, and Other Things We Fouled Up By Jenn Bishop Cover Image
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(YA Middle Grade)


"A beautifully crafted tale of friendship, family, and forgiveness, with characters so vivid and real you can’t help but root for them, on and off the court." —Matt Tavares, New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Hoops 

Competitive basketball takes center court in this fast-paced novel about two girls finding the truth about themselves—and their families—against the backdrop of middle school and college hoops.

Cincinnati, Ohio, lives and dies by college basketball, with two elite Division I rivals separated by a mere three miles. Rory’s dad just secured a new coaching gig at the University of Cincinnati, so it means yet another school and move for her, only this time to her dad’s hometown. Rory’s life revolves around basketball; she’s never had a close friend outside of it. Could this be a chance for a fresh start?

Abby has always lived in Cincinnati, where her dad grew up playing ball and now coaches at Xavier University. But Abby has recently retreated from basketball after a frustrating season that left her confidence in shambles. This year, she finds herself on the outside looking in when it comes to her former teammates, and she could seriously use a new friend.    

The coaches' daughters connect over their shared love of the game when Abby chaperones Rory on her first day of school. But when Abby’s dad practically forbids their friendship because of something that happened between him and Rory’s dad when they were younger, Abby and Rory have no choice but to move their budding friendship underground.

Can the two of them get to the bottom of what went down between their dads in the 1990s before history repeats itself?

SPORTS BOOKS FOR GIRLS: This book stars two protagonists who love basketball in their own ways and features a spectrum of characters (including a basketball-playing nun!) who engage with the sport individually and distinctly. The breadth of athletes reflects the reality of sports for kids and young teens, making the story appealing to a wide range of readers.

AUTHENTIC & ACCESSIBLE NARRATIVE: Reluctant readers and book lovers alike will find a genuine story that conveys real emotions, family struggles, and insecurities driven by the tension of middle school sports.

FAST-PACED AND FUN: Unraveling like a mystery but moving like a he-said, she-said, and traveling through time and generations, this book has the right level of high stakes to keep readers hooked to the end.

ENDURING LEGACY OF BASKETBALL: As one of the world’s most popular sports, basketball is significant to people of all ages and carries a sense of nostalgia across generations. It’s played in schools across the globe, on official sports teams and in gym class, and brings members of communities together in parks and recreational centers. This sport’s positive influence on overlooked communities and students from economically impacted backgrounds also speaks to the importance of basketball at a social level.

Perfect for:
  • Fans of basketball
  • Anyone looking for basketball books for teens and tweens
  • Parents, teachers, and librarians seeking positive children's friendship books
  • Readers of YA sports novels like The Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang, and Knockout by K.A. Holt

About the Author

Jenn Bishop is also the author of four other novels for young readers, including the Parents’ Choice Gold Award winner Things You Can’t Say. Her books have been named Junior Library Guild selections and Bank Street College of Education best books and have been finalists for state book awards. She currently calls Cincinnati, Ohio, home. What team do you think she roots for? Visit her online at

Praise For…

“[T]his brisk and gracious upper-middle-grade selection is a top seed for collections and slam dunk for sports fans.” — Booklist

“Rich in tight bonds as well as savvy coaching on both game play and forgiveness.” — Kirkus Reviews

“A warm, funny, thought-provoking book that will stay with readers long after they turn the last page.” —Barbara Carroll Roberts, author of Nikki on the Line

“A love letter to basketball and to all of us—girls and boys, men and women—captivated by the game.” —Andrew Maraniss, author of Inaugural Ballers: The True Story of the First U.S. Women’s Olympic Basketball Team 

“An exploration of family, rivalries, and forgiveness, this book scores big.” —Gillian McDunn, author of When Sea Becomes Sky and Caterpillar Summer

“Abby and Rory’s story is a slam dunk.”—Laura Shovan, author of The Last Fifth Grade of Emerson Elementary

“Basketball-loving readers will adore this book, but it’s so much more than a basketball story. A beautifully crafted tale of friendship, family, and forgiveness, with characters so vivid and real you can’t help but root for them, on and off the court.” —Matt Tavares, New York Times bestselling author-illustrator of Hoops

“A slam dunk for sports lovers, chili-on-spaghetti skeptics, and anyone still trying to find their place in

school, in friendship, or in life.” —Erin Yun, author of the Pippa Park series

“Jenn Bishop’s ode to basketball, friendship, and the city of Cincinnati charmed me from the first page and made me want to eat Skyline chili and get tickets to a March Madness game. I love Rory and Abby, and middle school readers will, too!” —Laurie Morrison, author of Up for Air and Coming Up Short

“The pacing is quick, and readers will not be bored with the family/friend drama and the basketball action. Abby and Rory are well-rounded characters with flaws, who come into their own as they realize how much one decision can change their whole lives.” — School Library Journal

Product Details
ISBN: 9781797215617
ISBN-10: 1797215612
Publisher: Chronicle Books
Publication Date: October 24th, 2023
Pages: 304
Language: English