Book Review, Contemporary, LGBQT, Library Thing Early Reviewers, Romance, Sports, YA Fiction

The Necessary Hunger by Nina Revoyr

Publication date: March 5, 2019
Genre: Fiction/Literature/LGBT
Pages: 368


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 the 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.


I was driven by hunger… I wanted to show people what I was capable of, and to prove myself–to the teachers who thought I was undisciplined and lazy; to the white kids who’d laughed at the idea of a Japanese kid playing basketball; to Raina, who I admired but also envied; to my father; to my mother; to anyone who had ever believed that I couldn’t succeed.

Nancy is a Japanese-American all-star high school basketball player who has no shortage of college recruiters asking her to join their basketball programs.  Her fans are many, she has a loving father, great friends, but she’s out of sorts.  Her life as a high school senior was almost over and the pressure of finals, tournaments, deciding what college to attend and loving someone who didn’t love her back was tortuous. What does her future hold?  Will basketball always be a part of it?  Will Raina continue to be in her life?

This book was originally published in 1997. The story is located near Los Angeles, California, in the late 1980s before the L.A. riots so race relations are volatile, neighborhoods are unsafe, and basketball is more than just a sport.  

Ms. Revoyr wrote this story from experience.  Her characters are diverse and full of vulnerabilities, passion, and drive, and it is commendable to see a gay, Asian-American, female athlete as the protagonist.  However, I felt the protagonist, Nancy, didn’t really grow at the end and I felt nothing really happened other than she made it through high school.  

As a person who did not enjoy sports in high school, I found the basketball talk boring and repetitive and felt the story could have moved faster without so much play-by-play commentary on girl’s basketball.

All in all, the story is worth reading to experience the racial tensions and teenage gay love and angst in a city that is growing restless.

Thank you to Ms. Revoyr and LibraryThing Early Reviewers for giving me the opportunity to review this book with no expectation of a positive review given.


The Necessary Hunger



Nina RevoyrNina Revoyr was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and a white American father and grew up in Tokyo, Wisconsin, and Los Angeles. She is the author of four novels. Her first book, The Necessary Hunger, was described by Time magazine as “the kind of irresistible read you start on the subway at 6 p.m. on the way home from work and keep plowing through until you’ve turned the last page at 3 a.m. in bed.”

Nina is the executive vice president of a large child and family service agency in Los Angeles. She has also been an Associate Faculty member at Antioch University, and a Visiting Professor at Cornell University, Occidental College, and Pitzer College. Nina lives in Northeast Los Angeles with her partner, two rowdy dogs, and a pair of bossy cats. 

Visit her on her website and Twitter.