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YA Review: Dragon Hoops by Gene Luen Yang

Title: Dragon Hoops
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Year Published: 2020

Genre: YA fiction (graphic novel)
Pages: 38
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location (my 2020 Google Reading map): USA (CA, MO, FL)

FTC Disclosure: I bought this book with my own money

Summary (from the inside flap of the book): 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: I liked two books that I've read by this author's Eternal Smile and American Born Chinese, so when a librarian friend recommended this one, I got a copy right away without knowing anything about the book.

Well, look at that cover. It's a basketball. I am so not a basketball person, but Yang writes such a good story with introspection and human interest that I loved this book. The illustrations are fun, especially since they are based on real people, and the story is compelling. By the end I felt I knew school, the staff, and the players. I wanted the team to win, I wanted the boys to be okay, and I wanted the author to fit in.

I liked the way the author used repetition for impact in this graphic novel: the concept of stepping into success or a life-altering experience; alternating chapters about games and the players; the hand shake versus fist bump; and more. They are reassuring loops in the plot.

I recommend this book for anyone who likes sports, a good story, or a peek into an inner circle.

Challenges for which this counts: 
This book counts for the Pop Sugar challenge because a character has a vision impairment (the author, the main character, wears glasses). This is a nod to 20/20 vision.

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