The Heartwarming Story of Carlos Cooper and the Rollin’ Rats


“Bouncing Back” is a novel by Scott Ostler about thirteen-year-old Carlos Cooper. Carlos was the star of his basketball team, chucking shots and making them. But after “the accident”, the one that took his mom and dad, Carlos is stuck in a wheelchair. He moves in with his aunt and uncle in Bay City, California, but misses being on a team. 

Carlos’ aunt Rosie signs him up for the wheelchair basketball team. He finds it very tough to learn some of the basic fundamentals of the game; dribbling, passing, and shooting. After a few practices, Carlos starts to get the hang of things and becomes friends with all of his teammates. The team is shooting for the State tournament, but when the mayor threatens to tear down their gym, it makes it even harder for Carlos and the team to accomplish their goal.

The main characters in this book are easy to love. All of them are very well developed throughout the book. They are all very appealing and each have their own unique personalities.  Some of their nicknames, like Stomper and Jellybean, are very amusing. However, because there are so many characters who play large roles in the story, sometimes it’s hard to follow who’s who. Carlos has six teammates, plenty of friends, and bitter rivals, so it makes sense why there are a lot of characters important to the plot.

This book is very serious at times, with accidents and struggling relationships. Carlos loses his mom and dad to a severe car accident, which was devastating for his entire family. He gets into fights with his aunt and uncle, along with one of his closest friends. The book also deals with the Rollin’ Rats’ gym having asbestos, a poisonous mineral that is used in insulation. On top of that, the kids attempt to protest by chaining themselves to the building. This story deals with some pretty advanced stuff, and it would not be a very enjoying read for sensitive or very young children. 

One surprising element that was added despite the book being very serious was humor. There were constantly characters making jokes, even when they were in tough situations. It really lightens the mood up in dark times during the story

Throughout this book of 296 pages, there were basketball terms that appeared very frequently. Some of the recurring ones were phrases like “pick-and-roll” along with “ten-footers” and “boxouts”. This book is a relatively easy read and would appeal to both basketball players and fans.