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The Necessary Hunger

3.82  ·  Rating details ·  407 ratings  ·  57 reviews
As a star basketball player in her senior year of high school, Nancy Takahiro's life is about to change forever. Faced with the college recruitment process and unsure where her skill will take her, Nancy is not prepared for meeting Raina Webber, an all-state shooting guard whose passion for basketball is matched only by her talent for it.

When Nancy's father and Raina's mot
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 5th 2019 by Akashic Books (first published March 15th 1997)
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3.82  · 
Rating details
 ·  407 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
i'm pretty sure there aren’t many books that focus on teenage girls, not in some special light and under particular (and doubtlessly most worthy) agendas, but as vibrant, strong people with a rich private and communal life that encompasses all sorts of realities. i can think of books that do this with boys, and from the point of view of boys, but girls, girls are mostly relegated to literature that exposes abuse (i’ll be delighted to be proven wrong).

nancy takahiro is a japanese-american high-s
This book took awhile to grow on me, but by the end I was very attached to the narrator, Nancy Takahiro. I think what intially turned me off was Revoyr's tendency to narrate in real time (e.g. "Then I saw a man walk across the street. He seemed to shuffle for some unknown reason. I kicked a pebble dejectedly while dribbling my basketball. The wind blew through my hair."). That was a bit cumbersome.

However, what I appreciate most about this novel is its honesty. Nancy Takahiro is super sympathet
Aug 31, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the story of Nancy Takahiro, a Japanese-American all-star high school basketball player who lives in Inglewood, California. Nancy is in love with her biggest rival, Raina Webber who ultimately becomes her step-sister. Yes, this sounds a little weird but really it is not. Nancy's father meets and falls in love with Raina's mother when both girls are already in high-school and preparing for college. Not a lot of books (at least of which I'm aware) have as their protagonist a lesbian Asian ...more
Kylie Sparks
This is one of the best books I've ever read. I read it several years ago and it has stuck with me all these years. I read it again and found it just as powerful. There are so many interesting things about this novel--it completely captures the experience of unrequited love, the characters are so well-drawn that you come to know not just the main characters but even minor characters. This novel has a powerful sense of place. It is clear that Nina Revoyr loves Los Angeles, and she is writing abou ...more
Joanna Eng
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I'm still just trying to wrap my head around the fact that this book was published (by a major publisher, no less) in 1997 (20 years ago, people; I could have read this when I was 13 or 14 years old) and features an Asian American lesbian protagonist and several (I mean, too many to count) other lesbians of color, who are all in high school. And the plot is not even focused on the coming out process or feeling conflicted about being gay or other traumatic consequences of homophobia. I do have so ...more
I really enjoyed this book. It's about the one that ultimately gets away, and there's something intangibly poetic about the story and the characters.
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lgbt, ya-read
Nancy Takahiro loves basketball and is a top ranked player in the State of CA. So is Raina Webber, from a competing school. What's even more complicated is that Nancy loves Raina, both are gay, but Nancy is in awe of Raina. Things get more complicated when Nancy's father and Raina's mother move from going out to living together. And then there is the whole racial thing.

This novel has several interwoven themes, all centered on girls' basketball. Some characters are racially mixed; some are gay; s
May 02, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lesbian, usa
Slow, but engaging. The story of a Japanese-American high-school basketball player who lives in a black neighborhood in L.A. in the late 1980s, it offers thoughtful reflections on racial and class dynamics that I've rarely come across in fiction. (Because #WeNeedDiverseBooks.)
Feb 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantabulous
The Necessary Hunger
by Nina Revoyr
1997/2019 (due 3-5-19)
Akashic, Brooklyn
5.0 / 5.0

What an amazing book and story! It will stay with me and be read many times.
The protagonist, Nancy Takahiro is an Asian American, 60, and an all-star High School basketball player. And a lesbian. She develops a crush on a rival, Raina Webber, and African American all-star point guard. It becomes interesting and intense when Nancyś dad falls in love with Rainaś mom, and decide to move in together. They move to In
Taryn Pierson
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I came to love basketball later in life than most fans. I was a junior in high school, and the University of Kansas had risen to the top of my list of college options. My grandma had been a KU fan for years, and her enthusiasm mixed with my own excitement at the prospect of heading to college, especially a school where basketball is king. Before I knew it, I had learned what a ball screen was, and I've spent every March since 2002 screaming at the TV.

So, as a basketball fan, I was really into N
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is the story of two female star high school basketball players. they are going to school in bad areas of LA. one of them, nancy, is asian, the other, raina, is black. their parents meet--the black mother and the asian father and get together. the two girls have known each other somewhat since they move in similar basketball circles, but now, for their senior year, they will live together in the same house, though they will stay with their original high schools and play for different teams. ...more
It's funny how the standard synopsis leaves out lesbians. Since I read this in high school, I do appreciate the book cover's vagueness because as the article cited below points out, I would have been too scared to check out something more explicit from my school library. At 16, I loved and was scared by this book in ways I couldn't articulate .

I have a longer review in me about how Revoyr tackles complex issues about racial and sexual identity while coming of age in 90s LA are handled with great
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Necessary Hunger is narrated by Nancy, and is an account of her love for her rival and (eventual) step-sister Raina, as well as of her senior year as a high school basketball star. As other reviewers note, there are many issues going on here (race, class, education), but I thought the importance of courage – and the consequences of failing to be courageous – was the topic Revoyr developed best. This is highlighted in the story of how Nancy’s father deals with the ethical compromises he is be ...more
There were some things in this book that were incredible. A non-white lesbian protagonist who is interested in another non-white lesbian, and how to navigate being queer and ethnic. The mixing of a black household and a Japanese household, and what that means for both families. What it's like to be a senior in high school, with everything ending.

While those elements were great, the story itself was lacking. Nancy, the protagonist, is very passive. Things just kind of happen around her, and she
Mar 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I've never cared about basketball, but this book had me hooked.

Is is a Young Adult novel? a coming-of-age novel? a romance? a war story?

Maybe all of the above, but i think at it's core, it is an excruciatingly drawn-out suspense, asking the essential question of survival.

Few authors (and almost zero YA authors) attempt to fully address the realities and implications of poverty in the US and how it affects adolescents. Revoyr watches it play out with devastating and final consequences, as if o
Katie M.
Jun 08, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012, queer
Even in spite of my unstoppable crush on Nina Revoyr, I will acknowledge that it's her stories, and not her writing itself, that make her books such winners. But that's good enough for me. There are few authors who I would let seduce me into reading so much technical play-by-play about girls' high school basketball, but in spite of it all being wasted on me (I wish you could have seen the mental basketball movie that my brain tried desperately to translate all her descriptions into...) I was sti ...more
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: lgbtqia, youngadult
1. if I had known about this when it came out, 1997, I think I would have understood myself so much sooner than I did.
2. I wish we got some of what Raina was thinking. I wonder how accurate Nancy's perceptions were but it is what is.
3. there's a lot to like here even if the identity of the protagonist doesn't shout to you like it did for me.
4. actually I am dropping a star because I'm dissatisfied with the ending.
Stephanie "Jedigal"
Competent writing, not a great style, but it fades into the background once the story starts to carry you away. This novel is populated by authentic-seeming characters, both adolescents and adults, who confront true-to-life issues of class, improper use of authority power, race, sexual orientation, and personal relationships. A lot to include, but really well treated by the author. A very enjoyable and worthwhile read!
Feb 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2014-books-read
Why did it have to end? The writing was at sometimes awkward but the content, subject matter, race relations, relationships, etc., made up for it. Highly recommend this book for anyone who played (was at one time obsessed with basketball) and felt visceral loneliness even while surrounded by friends and family. Great book for an Asian Am or African Am lit course or a Race and Lit course.
Jan 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
THE NECESSARY HUNGER is written by Nina Revoyr. The book consists of 20 chapters; an introduction by Lynell George - an award-winning Los Angeles-based journalist and essayist; an afterword (new) by Nina Revoyr and Acknowledgements.
This book is Ms. Revoyr’s debut novel and was first published in 1997. Akashic Books reissued THE NECESSARY HUNGER to correspond with the 2019 publication of Ms. Revoyr’s newest novel, A STUDENT OF HISTORY. I was privileged to receive both books to read and review. T
Mar 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
The Necessary Hunger from Nina Revoyr is the kind of story that slowly pulls you in but once you're in, you are in for the duration.

The writing is good but is probably the weakest aspect of the book but remember that this was Revoyr's first novel (1997). The writing is strong enough for the reader to become invested in Nancy, which is all it takes for the story to become self-propelled. Yes, it can seem slow going at times but that is how real life is. Things don't happen at a breakneck pace for
Jan 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this charming and understated. In a sense it was lacking in plot - Nancy ends up living with her crush and they develop somewhat of a friendship, but she never really opens up to Raina. In another sense a lot happened - there are subplots involving the pressure on Nancy's dad to let the star quarterback pass his class, the difficulties and choices of her friends who are poor and are not being recruited by college coaches like she is, the conflict a black woman has with her friends over d ...more
Jul 30, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-lit
Nancy Takahiro is an all-star high school basketball player. She has found her match in Raina Webber, a shooting guard who is just as driven. Nancy has a huge crush on Raina that leaves her tongue-tied and it doesn't help when Nancy's father and Raina's mom fall-in love and move in together.

Good story. Felt high school all over again. Very realistic. Older YA because shooting, etc.
Stevo Brock
Feb 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was a Best of the Best for the month of February, 2019, as selected by Stevo's Book Reviews on the Internet. Search for me on Google for many more reviews and recommendations
Jan 22, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Necessary Hunger doesn't really seem to have a plot. It's mostly about Nancy trying to work up the courage to tell Raina how she feels and this takes an incredibly long time (368 pages). The book is a decent length, but I had a hard time concentrating in some places and it probably could have been pared down a little. I could only take so much of Nancy talking about her passionate feelings for Raina and then not acting on them. I also got tired of watching Nancy watch Raina and Toni (Raina' ...more
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Necessary Hunger isn't a book I would normally read, but I enjoyed Nina Revoyr's other books (Southland and Wingshooters) and ended up loving this one too. It's about a lesbian high school basketball player. I have no interest in basketball or sports, but the story, characters, and writing style kept me hooked. I didn't even mind reading the basketball stuff. Nancy Takahiro, a talented Japanese American girl grows up in Inglewood, California, a predominantly black neighborhood. She's raised ...more
If I'd known in advance how much of this book was going to be taken up by descriptions of basketball I would probably not have bothered, so I'm glad I didn't really know what I was getting into, because this book was amazing. It perfectly balances Nancy's meditative, introspective voice with the intensity and vibrancy of her life during the period the book covers. I was going to offer a short list of more specific things but there's no real way to sum it up. Read it, it's good.

As a note re the s
Nov 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anoosh Jorjorian
This is still one of my favorite Revoyr novels. A friend recently asked for books about GLBT teens for a class she is teaching, and I recommended this to her. As usual, Revoyr doesn't just accurately render the agonies of closeting/coming out and other difficulties common to GLBT teens (crushes!), but she interweaves it all with issues of race and class. Her fast-paced, dramatic accounts of basketball games between two rival high schools keeps it engaging for kids who might grapple with, rather ...more
Nov 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book has been on a friend's shelf since 1997 when she read the first release by the now award-winning Revoyr. A quick and easy read about a high school senior and star basketball player with an all consuming crush on another ball player. The star is Japanese American who grew up in mostly black communities in Los Angeles and the race and class issues are well represented by someone who's also different but on the inside of another culture. I give it 4.5 stars, actually. I'm planning on read ...more
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Nina Revoyr was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white American father, and grew up in Tokyo, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of four novels. Her first book, The Necessary Hunger , was described by Time magazine as "the kind of irresistible read you start on the subway at 6 p.m. on the way home from work and keep plowing through until you've turned the last page at 3 a.m. in ...more
“She played the game the way that it was meant to be played⎼as if her life depended on it. And she seemed driven by some need, or struggle, or fundamental resolve, that preceded the basketball and made it possible..” 5 likes
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