Necessary Hunger: A Novel

Necessary Hunger: A Novel

by Nina Revoyr

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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


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 move in together, the girls are faced with the challenge of negotiating their already intense friendship and rivalry. As Nancy's love for Raina grows and both prepare to leave inner city neighborhood that has nurtured them, they find themselves looking toward a future that is no longer easily defined.

Set against a backdrop of racial tension between the Asian American and African American communities of Los Angeles and infused with tenderness and passion. The Necessary Hunger explores not only the intricacies of the game of basketball, but also the very nature of the relationships young women create in the face of the odds that are stacked against them.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A wholesome coming-of-age novel about two lesbian high-school basketball stars, Revoyr's debut is a meditation on consuming passion and a reflection on lost opportunities. Narrator Nancy Takahiro, a Japanese-American teen growing up in predominantly black South Central Los Angeles, is awestruck when she first sees fellow high-school sophomore Raina Webber (who's black) play basketball. Nancy is on the team, too, and her awe develops into a minor obsessionDand then a full-fledged crush. Awkward everywhere but on the court, Nancy is further flustered when, two years later, Nancy's father and Raina's mother meet and fall in loveDand Raina and her mother move in with the Takahiros. The basketball action, which builds climactically, honors the split-second timing and excitement of the game. Revoyr also evokes the feel of contemporary L.A., capturing crackheads, gangbangers and car-jackings in sharp, street-smart dialogue. A handful of engaging subplotsDincluding Raina's mother's conflict with friends over dating a non-black manDexamine contemporary issues of race, sexuality and fairness. In portraying the pressure and passion of athletic competition, and all the sweetness and yearning of first love, Revoyr's writing isn't showy. Her game is more like Nancy's than Raina's, not flashy but fundamentally solid. (Feb.)
VOYA - Mary McCarthy
Nancy Takahiro is a star basketball player driven by her need to appear worthy to the sports community, her neighborhood, and her greatest opponent, Raina Webber. When their parents move in together, the new living arrangement complicates the girls' already fragile relationship. Nancy works even harder, her passion to be worthy of Raina's friendship and her love forcing her to play her best. Raina remains elusive, secretive about everything from her girlfriend to her chosen college, while Nancy struggles to hide her deepening love and passion for the talented basketball guard. Emotions, playoffs, racial tensions, and college selection strain the tentative peace between these two talented young women. The author has created a remarkable first novel, a truthful memoir of passion, drive, and the need to surpass everyone's expectations of your abilities. The importance of family, community, and the struggle to succeed are realistically portrayed through a variety of characters. The rough life of the Los Angeles neighborhoods, the easy slide into crime, and the acceptance of violence is skillfully woven into the players' world. History, prejudice, and powerful basketball action flow easily around the narrator's hope-filled and sometimes painful account. Not an easy read, but one well worth the concentration needed to reach the end. A rare examination of women's sport for older readers, athletes or not, and an intimate one-sided love story. VOYA Codes: 4Q 2P S (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses, For the YA with a special interest in the subject, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
Library Journal
In Revoyr's first novel, Japanese American Nancy Takahiro recounts her days as a high school basketball star in South Central Los Angeles. Soon, African American Raina Webber, a star at a rival school, and her mother move into Nancy's home. Both young women are gay, and Nancy must come to grips with feelings for her new housemate that go beyond the scope of athletics. Revoyr focuses on a number of issues, including competition, interracial relationships, and same-sex relationships. In its presentation of the challenges of living in the 'hood, her work is reminiscent of Sheneska Jackson's Caught Up in the Rapture (LJ 4/15/96). While Revoyr doesn't delve into the complexities of interracial relationships as deeply as the issues of sports and interpersonal relationships, she does question whether love can truly transcend social boundaries. A thoughtful work for larger fiction collections.-Shirley N. Quan, Orange County P.L., Garden Grove, Cal.
School Library Journal
Two young women grapple with the stress of competitive high school basketball, college recruiters, their sexual identities, racism, and the interracial love story of their parents. Enough here to appease appetites for drama. (Dec.)
Kirkus Reviews
Low-key but refreshing girls 'n' the `hood debut novel about a pair of furiously competitive basketball stars searching for love and certainty in the dank gymnasiums and mean streets of South Central L.A.

The familiar inner-city downers of racism, crime, family disintegration, and sports-as-salvation are handled with extraordinary intelligence and sensitivity in this episodic story. Teenager Nancy Takahiro, a shy, six-foot Japanese-American basketball player, lives in a small suburban tract house with her divorced father, Wendell, a high-school math teacher and football coach. When Wendell invites his girlfriend, divorcée Claudia Webber, a circulation manager for the L.A. Times, to move in with him, Claudia, an African-American, brings her daughter, Raina Webber, a ferociously aggressive basketball star who plays at a different high school that's in a different league. The two girls are not only the same age but also "members of the family"—that is, lesbian. As their parents endure racial stigmatism from former friends, what could have been a simple sibling rivalry becomes something far more complicated as Nancy becomes emotionally—and sexually—infatuated with Raina, who, though five inches shorter than Nancy, has the gutsy, American street-smart confidence that Nancy feels she lacks. Author Revoyr dodges the easy clichés of ghetto melodrama—nobody gets pregnant or has a drug problem here; everybody has enough to eat; and violence and crime, while evident, happen elsewhere—as she sends Nancy and Raina toward an ultimate confrontation in a league playoff, where Nancy's turbulent uncertainties about herself, as well as her unrequited affection for Raina, make the outcome of the game more than a matter of winning or losing.

A quietly intimate, vigorously honest, and uniquely American hoop dream: tough and tender, without a single false note.

Product Details

St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
5.48(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.94(d)

Meet the Author

Nina Revoyr was born in Japan and raised in Tokyo and Los Angeles. She received her M.F.A. from Cornell University, where she is currently a lecturer.

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