Sandra Strange's Reviews > Hoops

Hoops by Walter Dean Myers
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Sep 03, 09

bookshelves: sports, young-adult

This novel combines minority inner city African American culture with basketball to make a superior YA novel. The protagonist starts out selfish, hostile, closed to others and arrogant. An ex NBA player, one who made a mistake which brought drastic consequences, organizes a basketball team with the protagonist and his friends. The protagonist and other members on the team struggle with issues of racism, identity within black culture, stealing, gambling, cheating, dealing with racketeers, violence, sex, etc. Through the struggles and the relationship with the coach, this young man matures and opens himself up to others--friends, girlfriend--and begins to take responsibility for his actions. The challenge of this novel comes with the black culture--mild language, casual attitude towards stealing, casual attitude toward extramarital sex, and other cultural attitudes understandable in this environment, but a bit rough for the immature reader. The novel is well written, with basketball action sequences and adventure that will engage the most unwilling reader. The voice is very strong (the protagonist tells the story), and very unlikable at first. Myers’ skill is that the novel allows the reader to see through this narrator and recognize that the reasons for his arrogance and emotional inaccessibility, even before he grows, matures and changes, make him sympathetic.
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