Seventeen-year-old Brenda Jacobsen comes from a family of tall people. In the small logging town of Hemlock, Washington, being tall makes you better at trimming the high spots on trees or at playing basketball. Brenda’s life has always revolved around basketball, particularly the career of her older brother, Benny, the town’s rising star. But Benny died in a car accident last year, leaving Brenda and her parents without the star of their family and without a way to fill the huge hole in their lives.
Though Hemlock’s dreams of basketball glory died along with her brother, Brenda is looking forward to playing on the lessimportant girls’ team. This year the girls planned to get the recognition they deserve—but that was before their coach left to take a better job. Now they’re faced with a new coach, whose offbeat philosophy has the girls reciting lines from poems as they play. It brings them recognition, but not the kind they were hoping for. Still, when the sawmill closes down and Brenda’s parents seem to be on the verge of breaking up, she and the rest of the team find inspiration in the last place they’d ever have expected—poetry.