cover image The Necessary Hunger

The Necessary Hunger

Nina Revoyr. Simon & Schuster, $22.5 (368pp) ISBN 978-0-684-83234-0

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.)