Best selling graphic novelist Gene Luen Yang was at a loss for what to work on next. Inspiration is a flighty thing and it had been a couple years since the publication of his last book. He was starting to get worried, but students at the high school where he taught computer programming were talking… about basketball. Now, Yang admittedly is not an athlete, but he knows a good story when he sees one, and the rumors were that the Bishop O’Dowd Dragons had a team in 2015 that could go all the way to state. After an initial conversation with the coach, Yang becomes part of the journey. He describes the origins of the game itself, bios of the key players, and the legacy that is O’Dowd basketball. But this book isn’t just a high school sports season; it’s the story of Yang’s own ability to balance his life’s priorities.
Teaching, Comics, Family. Teaching, Comics, Family. What portion of the pie chart of life will each priority cover? What portion should each priority cover? Yang feels the shift as he starts this project and when he’s offered other projects… he knows something will have to give. And then his frustrations with the writing process. He wants to make sure to tell the story correctly, to conduct the interviews well, and not leave anything out, no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be.
This book captures Yang’s style so perfectly, yet also draws you into his personal life in a graphic novel that took over six year to produce. I definitely think it was worth it. I have read his other work, and as much as I loved his other books, as a high school teacher and coach myself, he captures the passion and the trials of youth sports just about perfectly. The player who sits on the bench, the coach who has to make a lineup, and the exchange student whose tasks are so much more difficult than than other students.
Yang certainly catches lightning in a bottle with this one… a storybook ending in more ways than one. Check it out!
5 out of 5 stars
Thank you to NetGalley, First Second Books, and the author for an advanced copy for review.