Rummanah Aasi
 Gene understands stories—comic book stories, in particular. Big action. Bigger thrills. And the hero always wins. But Gene doesn’t get sports. As a kid, his friends called him “Stick” and every basketball game he played ended in pain. He lost interest in basketball long ago, but at the high school where he now teaches, it's all anyone can talk about. The men’s varsity team, the Dragons, is having a phenomenal season that’s been decades in the making. Each victory brings them closer to their ultimate goal: the California State Championships.

Once Gene gets to know these young all-stars, he realizes that their story is just as thrilling as anything he’s seen on a comic book page. He knows he has to follow this epic to its end. What he doesn’t know yet is that this season is not only going to change the Dragons’s lives, but his own life as well.

Review:  Graphic novelist and math teacher Gene Luen Yang is struck with writer's block, but he may have found inspiration for his new project by the Dragons, his high school's men varsity basketball team. Over the years, the Dragons were state championship hopefuls but could not clinch their title, however, given the team's talent and standing this was their year. Though a self-proclaimed nerd, Yang has not had a personal connection to sports, but he is swept away by the passion and hard work of follow alumnus Coach Lou and a diverse squad of young men on their quest for the championship. The graphic novel becomes more than just Yang following the game, its players, and coaches, but an entertaining mixture of journalism, memoir, and action comic. The characters become full human beings rather than cartoon caricatures and I especially loved the one on one interviews of the players and Yang which reveal topics such as assimilation, discrimination, a personal connection to the partition of India and Pakistan, as well as China's century-long quest for athletic recognition. Readers also get to know more about Yang, the individual, as he also talks about his career arc and it does not distract from the story. The action of the basketball court lends itself to quick paced action scenes and were easy to follow. Readers will initially be drawn to the subject of basketball but will leave with learning so much more. 

Rating: 4 stars

Words of Caution: There are mentions of slurs at the basketball games. Recommended for Grades 8 and up.

If you like this book try: Crossover by Kwame Alexander, Becoming Kareem: Growing Up On and Off the Court by Kareem Abdul Jabar
1 Response
  1. I loved this graphic novel and think it was well done, interesting, illuminating, and fun.

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