(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Giant Steps, although originally intended for adults, is also of interest to young adult readers because of its sensitive look at the private, inner world of a well-known athlete. The world of Giant Steps is one of courage and perseverance, where failures and weaknesses are acknowledged and overcome. Giant Steps is an experience that will prove involving to young readers of diverse backgrounds and interests.

Abdul-Jabbar portrays himself in such a realistic, moving way that the reader almost becomes a participant in this unusual individual’s life. Those who have known the nonfighter’s initial incomprehension and ineffectualness in the face of a bully’s aggression will empathize with the young Alcindor. The burgeoning young athlete who is undeveloped and at odds with a clumsy body will agonize with the fumbling, awkward young man. Abdul-Jabbar faced the trials of growing up heads taller than his peers, which will interest young readers who identify with the pain of being different and set apart. The phenomenal success that this individual attained can be appreciated more fully because of the background knowledge provided by Giant Steps.

Giant Steps succeeds as an autobiography because of its ability to immerse the reader immediately and continually into an intimately compassionate involvement in the highs and lows of its subject’s life. Sports fans know of the legendary Alcin-for from...

(The entire section is 593 words.)