Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

In Giant Steps: The Autobiography of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the successful combination of Abdul-Jabbar’s verbal style and Peter Knobler’s written style provides an intimate first-person narrative of the first thirty-eight years in the life of a basketball legend. The book is divided into fifteen chapters, beginning with the star’s childhood and ending with his announced National Basketball Association retirement. In the center of the book are sixteen pages of black-and-white photographs of Abdul-Jabbar that cover each stage of his life from infancy to fatherhood, including many on-court action shots.

In the first five chapters of the book, Abdul-Jabbar reveals the thoughts, actions, and family background of Lew Alcindor, a gangly, awkward, picked-upon child whose gradual emergence into a high-school basketball star was accompanied by much mental anguish and physical pain. He portrays such turning points as unexpected disillusionment with his revered high-school mentor, Coach Jack Donohue, and Al-cindor’s college selection process.

Abdul-Jabbar explores the adjustment of this New York City boy to Los Angeles, college life, Coach John Wooden, and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) championships. As a college senior, Alcindor continued his search for spiritual belief. He was attracted to Islam, met his spiritual mentor, Hamaas Abdul-Khaalis, plunged into Islamic studies, and was renamed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Chapter 9...

(The entire section is 423 words.)