(Masterpieces of American Literature)

In Hoops, Myers makes the game of basketball symbolize the game of life. Basketball was one of Myers’s passions; it was an escape from the frustrations of school, a time to bond with other kids his age, and just plain fun. He depicts the basketball scenes in his books with astounding clarity and from an insider’s perspective. Hoops seems at first to be an action-packed sports novel but is soon revealed as a moral tale about choices and integrity.

The main character in Hoops is seventeen-year-old Lonnie Jackson, who clings to a dream that he will become a professional basketball player. He is a senior in high school and is feeling tense about what his next steps in life will be. Basketball could be a way out of Harlem, a way to accrue status in the world, and a way to have some self-esteem. Lonnie is one of the best players in Harlem. He believes that there is a real chance that his dream could come true.

Lonnie rarely stays at home with his mother. He has an arrangement with the manager of a hotel called The Grant where he does some cleaning in exchange for a place to sleep. One of the first incidents in the book is a robbery at a liquor store across the street from the hotel. While the criminals are herding staff and customers into the back, Lonnie grabs a case of scotch to sell. This incident paints a picture of Lonnie’s environment and of his own cunning adaptation to that environment.


(The entire section is 568 words.)


(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Bishop, Rudine Sims. Presenting Walter Dean Myers. Boston: Twayne, 1990.

Burshtein, Karen. Walter Dean Myers. New York: Rosen, 2004.

Jordan, Denise M. Walter Dean Myers: Writer for Real Teens. Berkeley Heights, N.J.: Enslow, 1999.

McElmeel, Sharron L. “A Profile: Walter Dean Myers. Book Report 20, no. 2 (September/October, 2001): 42-45.

Smith, Amanda. “Walter Dean Myers.” Publishers Weekly 239, nos. 32/33 (July 20, 1992): 217-218.