Dragon Hoops

Dragon Hoops Gene Luen YangThis week, I’m going to throw a book by another great writer onto the court.
It bears repeating that I don’t adhere to the New Book Culture. If I’ve missed a book, I’ll gladly pick it up to see if it’s about to become a favorite.

Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang was published in 2020. I hadn’t read it before because it’s about basketball and I wasn’t sure I’d enjoy it. If you have that same hesitancy, throw it out of bounds.

You have to know that I grew up in a basketball home. During the season, high school and college ball were on our television and our radio. It doesn’t take much to recall how often the insistent bleat of a whistle woke me up at night. My mom didn’t enjoy pro ball but she rarely missed any high school or college basketball game.

When I got to junior high, I gave it a try. I played basketball and I was good at it (I was also tall for my age). I enjoyed it. But when I was in school, in our school district, there were no opportunities for girls to play basketball outside of gym. No teams. I lost interest. And I was sour enough about it that I’d go read a book instead of watching basketball on TV.

I’m glad I followed my determination to read everything Gene Luen Yang writes. Even a book about basketball. Because, not surprisingly, it’s a book about much more than basketball. It has history, mystery, humor, scandal, friendship, ethics, philosophy, smooches, and even sports.

We follow Mr. Yang (whether he’s real or not is debated later in the book) to the high school at which he teaches. He wants to write another book but he’s at a loss for the subject matter. He’s not particularly a sports fan (that’s an understatement) but he senses the drama in what’s taking place at Bishop O’Dowd High School in Oakland, California, past and present. They might have a championship basketball team. Can Yang craft this into a story, the type of graphic novel he’s respected for writing?

It took Yang five years to research and develop this book, only to have the publication tour sidelined by Covid. “Pandemic books” as they’ve come to be known, need an extra dose of “tell a friend how good this book is.” I hope you will.

Whether you love basketball, or any sports, or you don’t, this will be a book that prompts you to get up from the bleachers and yell your enthusiasm for another terrific book by Gene Luen Yang. Thank goodness he chose to be a storyteller. This book is all about taking risks and discovering depths in yourself that you didn’t suspect you had.

Highly recommended.

Dragon Hoops
written by Gene Luen Yang
First Second, 2020
Suggested for ages 10 and up
ISBN 978-1-5362-2251-7

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