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Jack O'Brien is a high school basketball coach extreme in both his demands and his devotion. With monastic discipline, he has built a powerhouse program that wins state championships year after year while helping propel players to college. He does this as a white suburban guy working exclusively with black city boys who make the daily trek across Boston to attend Charlestown High School, where the last battles of the city's school desegregation wars were fought a generation ago.
The Assist is a gripping, surprising story about fathers, sons, and surrogates, all confronting the narrow margins of urban life. The book follows the players on their hunt for a state title. But it also stays with them, to see how young men who seldom get second chances survive without their coach hovering over them—and how he survives without them.