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The Necessary Hunger

3.81  ·  Rating details ·  390 Ratings  ·  51 Reviews
As a star basketball player in her last year of high school, Nancy Takahiro's life is about to change forever. Faced with the college recruitment process and unsure of 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.

When Nancy's father and Raina's mother mo
Paperback, 365 pages
Published March 15th 1997 by St. Martin's Griffin
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Nov 12, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Oct 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 13, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.)
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.
Oct 31, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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
Ilyse Kramer
It's funny how the standard synopsis leaves out the lesbianism. Since I read this in high school though, before I realized I was queer, I do appreciate the vagueness in a way, because as the book riot article on "lesbian hands" on book covers pointed out--I would have been too scared to check out something more explicit from my school library.

Complex issues about racial and sexual identity while coming of age in 90s LA are handled with great realistic nuance, and I loved Nancy's friendships with
Katie M.
Jun 08, 2012 rated it liked it
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
Joanna Eng
Nov 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
Feb 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
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
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 22, 2010 rated it really liked it
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
Taryn Pierson
Jun 22, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Jan 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Anoosh Jorjorian
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
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
I'm not even remotely interested in basketball, but this book still held my interest from start to finish. The characters were believable -- very well fleshed-out. The setting was interesting. The conflicts drew me in. It's also suitable for a younger audience as there is no explicit sex, if that matters to you. A little light cursing (a "shit" here, a "damn" there). Even people who are offended by LGBTQIA literature would have a hard time being offended by this, although I'm sure they'll manage ...more
Dec 31, 2014 rated it it was ok
I wanted to enjoy this, but the writing style was just too slow, and its retrospective, historical pacing made what should've been an engaging, emotional, and immersive experience reminiscent and removed. Only got up to page 47 and found myself drifting away from it even that far. It might've picked up after that point, but not going to read any further to find out.

I was intrigued originally to read a coming-of-age tale of a LGBTQ Japanese-American protagonist and her also LGBTQ African love in
Dec 18, 2011 rated it it was ok
I really wanted to like this book. The premise was great. This was a book full of a character's inner turmoil with a very lackluster, unsatisfactory ending. It fell really, really flat to me. Considering all the emotion, I wanted to feel it more. Maybe we were too inside Nancy's head? Maybe if I was a teenager still I'd like it more? Two stars because we really really need more books about teen queers of color, particularly ones about teens living their lives with the plot focused on something o ...more
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: lgbt-women
this is the kind of book that makes you just ache with a sort of melancholy dread? or maybe hope? the whole time you read it. but in a good way. it's not the most action-packed or fast-paced or tightly-plotted book in the world, but it's not trying to be any of that.

listen, ok, just read it. especially if you love basketball or lesbian lit. ESPECIALLY if you are a lesbian who plays or played basketball. this book made me want to go back in time and not quit in middle school.
Martina Dominique Aspen
Raising my rating from 4 to 5 stars because it's been seven months, but I can't stop thinking about this damn book. I want to read it over and over and get lost in the pages of longing and grittiness and something else I can't quite name. It hurt, and it won't leave me alone, and I don't think I can ever forget it. Wow.
Kate Stone
Oct 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, sports
Interesting read - different perspective than most of my sports books. The main character, an amazing high school basketball player, has to deal with not only the pressures of signing to play ball at a major college, but also with the pressures of a new family situation, and dealing with emotional issues and fitting in. Good read.
Feb 28, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: asian-american
Read this book shortly after it was released in hardcover. Ground-breaking in so many ways. Aptly depicts the Japanese American female basketball scene -- had never read that before in a novel. So L.A.
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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
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“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..” 4 likes
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