The Necessary Hunger


As a star basketball player in her last year of high school, Nancy Takahiro’s life is about to change forever. Facing the fear of leaving home and wondering where her skill will take her, Nancy is not prepared for the complications that arise when she meets Raina Webber, a devoted, ferocious athlete, whose love of basketball is matched only by her talent for it.

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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. Facing the fear of leaving home and wondering where her skill will take her, Nancy is not prepared for the complications that arise when she meets Raina Webber, a devoted, ferocious athlete, whose love of basketball is matched only by her talent for it.

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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.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781451677904
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 12/5/2011
  • Pages: 368
  • Sales rank: 1,331,912
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.10 (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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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2005

    this books so awesome!

    I read this book when I was in tenth grade. It won my heart. I didn't even know my school carried books like this(homosexuality that is). Anyhow, it helped me through highschool knowing that I could relate to being in athletics and whatnot. If you haven't read it you'll love it when you do :).

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2005

    A Must Read

    This book should definitely be in your collection. I could relate to the characters. I wish that there were books like this when I was a teenager.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 1, 2004

    i read it twice

    its a lovely story about teenage love that any adult can relate to. you'll finish it in only a few sittings.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 7, 2004

    Some insight into basketball life (for women)

    'The Necessary Hunger' is a wonderful book. I never put it down, I could relate to alot of things that happened in the novel. All female basketball players could relate...I enjoy the fact that even though it is fiction, it is just enough drama to keep the reader interested!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2003

    i looooved this book

    from the first page it will have you hooked--especially if you're a basketball fan. although i may not have much in common with nancy other than our sexuality, i felt like i was right there with her understanding every move she made and every feeling she had. at times it was hard to remember that nancy and i come from such different places. you really root for her. also, if you play ball, it's crazy the way the author describes the game, move by move, including rituals and emotion. especially good for girls in high school.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2000

    You Gotta Read This

    This book is one of the best books ever. Some people might be intimidated by the number of pages but once u pick it up and start u feel as if though u were standing right there next to Nancy. Although i don't share the same feelings as Nancy i do feel some aspects of her life. Like living in America as an Asian I feel Nancy all the way there. Everyone must read this book. Although many facets of the book are way to mature for certain audiences.

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