Even if you’re not a sports lover, Hooper by Geoff Herbach still has so much for you.
I really enjoyed this novel and you can read all about my thoughts in this post, plus read Geoff Herbach’s recommendations for how non-sporty people can fall in love with basketball, all with a ~giveaway~ at the end!
Hooper is all about Polish orphan immigrant Adam Reed, who uses basketball as a passport to a better life. He’s selected to play on a top-tier AAU team with some of the best players in state and the ticket to the good life is almost within his grasp–with the girl of his dreams, new friendships, and the potential for a better future.
Yet, life off the court isn’t so perfect and Adam struggles to decide between doing what’s right and getting as close as he can to that new life he’s sought. His friendships, family, and teammates all hang in the balance.
I’m not a basketball fan, or a sports fan in general. But I did really enjoy Hooper. A lot more than I expected to.
At first it came off as a kid playing basketball to be successful–but this grew so much more into that.
It’s honestly quite understated, kind of like Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay in the way that there are a lot of things being said without actually saying anything. For one, Adam is an immigrant from Poland and so part of the narrative revolves around what it’s like for him to be an immigrant and not have a perfect grasp on English–thing like hearing “MVP” as “envy pee” which gave me a laugh.
I did think that there was a little hitch here because at the beginning this barrier was really emphasized and by the end it was never mentioned. Although it’s great that the communication barrier is down and Adam is talking to people, even if its not perfectly, I feel like he could still encounter a few things that he wasn’t too sure of. I definitely wanted to see growth, but I did think it was almost too fast in the language aspect.
There’s also commentary about justice–not only with Adam’s best friend who is getting into some trouble that wasn’t really his fault, but also with his teammate Khalil who is also getting into unwarranted trouble because of racism.
I really liked how all of the storylines weaved together. There was the thing between Adam and his best friend possibly getting expelled–but there was also something about Adam blowing off his best friend. And his best friend staying with Adam’s family. And Adam’s mom feeling neglected as well.
It really all comes through in a great big circle as the subplots intertwine, and I really enjoyed that about this book.
It talks about so many realistic things–justice, friendship, immigration, family–and I thought that this was the best aspect of the book.
It was real and although Adam definitely isn’t perfect at the beginning, and still not perfect at the end, he really learned a lot about life throughout the book. He finds courage and he faces bullying and it all really comes full circle.
I also really enjoyed how developed the side characters were–both Adam’s adopted mom Renata and his best friend Barry and his love interest Carli and his teammates and even the guy who bullies him. They all really contributed to what made this book feel so whole and complete.
It was easy to read and I sped through it in a couple of days. Of course, there’s sporty stuff in there, but even as a non-sporty person, I could really appreciate the base of this story. It’s not really about basketball (although basketball is cool) or what it’s like to be a Polish immigrant. It’s about growth and learning and figuring out how to do what is right.
Overall, I really enjoyed this one and think that anyone looking for a more nuanced read, or readers who love basketball, will enjoy Adam’s story in Hooper.
Thank you so much to Harper Collins and Jean Book Nerd Blog Tours for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review!
Now, I’ve talked a lot about how even though I’m not a sporty person, I did really enjoy Hooper. But I’m sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I could appreciate basketball at its finest, so I asked Geoff Herbach about his top ten ways for non-sporty people to fall in love with basketball. And here’s what he said:
Top Ten Ways for Non-Sporty People to Fall in Love with Basketball
- Listen to NBA players! They are smart and engaged in what’s happening in the world.
- Watch the Houston Rockets. James Harden and Chris Paul look like they’re in slow motion, but are moving so fast. They are magicians. They could be ballet dancers.
- Lebron James is slowly growing to look like Abraham Lincoln in shorts. It’s weird.
- The Minnesota Lynx of the WNBA get into offensive flow that also looks like ballet. It’s so beautiful. Five minds becoming one.
- Basketball is truly America’s game. It was invented here. It costs almost nothing to play. There are concrete courts everywhere. Everyone from everywhere can play. The most level of playing fields.
- Even a short fellow like me spent hours on the court with my best pal, Lara. We were a great 2 person team. She braided her pigtails and whipped our opponents in the eyes!
- Kareem Abdul Jabbar is an amazing writer! (And he was in the movie Airplane).
- Lebron James not only looks like Lincoln, but he also was the best part of the movie Trainwreck, which had some really funny parts. The guy can act!
- Google Image search Russell Westbrook’s fashion sense and you will see some of the boldest choices going. This is a future hall of famer, no doubt, both in basketball and fashion.
- Do you like nachos? You can get nachos at any basketball arena in the world!
I think the nacho part is what really hooked me. I’ve only gone to baseball games, and there it’s peanuts, cotton candy, and hot dogs. But oooh, nachos!
More About the Book
From Geoff Herbach, the critically acclaimed author of the Stupid Fast series, comes a compelling new YA novel about basketball, prejudice, privilege, and family, perfect for fans of Jordan Sonnenblick, Andrew Smith, and Matt de la Peña.
For Adam Reed, basketball is a passport. Adam’s basketball skills have taken him from an orphanage in Poland to a loving adoptive mother in Minnesota. When he’s tapped to play on a select AAU team along with some of the best players in the state, it just confirms that basketball is his ticket to the good life: to new friendships, to the girl of his dreams, to a better future.
But life is more complicated off the court. When an incident with the police threatens to break apart the bonds Adam’s finally formed after a lifetime of struggle, he must make an impossible choice between his new family and the sport that’s given him everything.
Praise for Hooper
“Lessons on small-town politics and what it means to be a good friend abound in this well-plotted work.” ―Booklist
“Herbach’s ability to expand the narrative from solid game play to confronting racial injustice is remarkable. No one here is perfect, and their failures make readers cringe yet root for success. Hoops and so much more.” ―Kirkus Reviews
“There’s much to love in this sports tale. Fast-paced play-by-plays vividly depict the speed and beauty of the game. Adam’s backstory is heartrending and with immigrant mistrust and nonviolent protests in the national spotlight, this is a timely and realistic teen drama and swish—nothin’ but net.” ―School Library Journal
“This sports/school/domestic drama checks all the boxes. What could be another boilerplate basketball novel benefits from a tight cast of well developed secondary characters who surpass their expected stereotypes.” ―Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books
“Fresh, funny, thoughtful, subversive, and totally absorbing. Book of the year!” ―Robert Lipsyte, Margaret A. Edwards award-winning author of The Contender
“Funny, gut-wrenching, and spilling over with heart, Hooper is an uplifting breath of joy, and gives us all cause to be hopeful. I loved it!” ―Andrew Smith, Michael L. Printz Honor and New York Times Bestselling author of Winger and Grasshopper Jungle
“Hooper is a slam dunk! A sports novel with incredible action and tons of heart. I challenge you not to fall in love with these terrific, flawed characters, and just try to put this one down once you start. Impossible.” ―Bill Konigsberg, Award-Winning Author of Honestly Ben
“Raw, funny, and deeply honest, Geoff Herbach gifts us a story about the messiness of life and the importance of talking about it—ultimately showing us how to not only trudge through it, but to soar.” ―Gae Polisner, author of In Sight of Stars and The Memory of Things
“Author Geoff Herbach has a remarkable ability to create characters who make us laugh and think, sometimes within the same sentence. Read Hooper and let your self be changed.” ―John Coy, author of Gap Life
More About the Author
Geoff Herbach is the author of the award winning Stupid Fast YA series as well as Fat Boy vs the Cheerleaders. His books have been given the 2011 Cybils Award for best YA novel, the Minnesota Book Award, selected for the Junior Library Guild, listed among the year’s best by the American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association and many state library associations. In the past, he wrote the literary novel, The Miracle Letters of T. Rimberg, produced radio comedy shows and toured rock clubs telling weird stories. Geoff teaches creative writing at Minnesota State, Mankato. He lives in a log cabin with a tall wife.
PHOTO CREDIT: KATHERINE WARDE
Want to win your own copy of Hooper? Well, try your luck through the Rafflecopter button below where ONE lucky winner will receive a signed copy of Hooper by Geoff Herbach. INTL, 13+, ends May 14th, 2018.
Don’t forget to check out all the other stops on the blog tour! You can find the full tour schedule below!
APRIL 23rd MONDAY JeanBookNerd INTERVIEW
APRIL 24th TUESDAY A Dream Within A Dream TENS LIST
APRIL 25th WEDNESDAY Vicky Who Reads REVIEW & TENS LIST
APRIL 26th THURSDAY Movies, Shows, & Books EXCERPT
APRIL 27th FRIDAY The O.W L REVIEW & GUEST POST
APRIL 27th FRIDAY Diane’s Book Blog EXCERPT