Hooper encourages courage during social injustice

MSU alum Geoff Herbach finishes another young adult novel

Rachael Jaeger
Staff Writer

Assistant English Professor Geoff Herbach has released another book, “Hooper,” which centers on an adopted Polish boy named Adam Reed who plays with an American Athletic Union which include the best players in his new state, Minnesota. Reed also uses basketball as a means of escape from his painful past and memories.

But when an incident with the police shakes up relationships with his new family, he realizes that life is more complicated outside of his world.   

Like Reed and his other characters, Herbach still enjoys making jokes.

At the beginning of “Hooper,” Reed has lived in the United States for three years and his challenge has been overcoming his shyness. Because he is quiet, his girlfriend tells him that his classmates and others think he is a jerk but he is self-conscious of his accent.

Herbach said that Reed feels embarrassed because he doesn’t express himself well but throughout the course of the plot, undergoes journey in which he learns to be a good person.

On a couple personal notes, because he was too short, Herbach could never play basketball but he enjoys exploring through a character who does.

But when Herbach was in high school, he involved himself in football and track, and it was only by accident that he learned a lot about basketball. Inspiration struck as he came across information while he listened to the radio broadcasts from different basketball teams.

A major reason why Herbach wrote the book is for it to be a response to the current situation of refusing refugees and it originates on a personal level for him.

“My dad was born Jewish in Antwerp, Belgium in 1940,” Herbach wrote on his WordPress blog. “In May, the Nazis came. My family fled.”

Herbach comes from a family background that is Polish, including his grandfather on his mom’s side. Herbach’s grandfather was born near Konigsberg which he describes as “disputed land” involving German, Russian, Polish, and Lithuanian.

“When Grandpa was eight, he saw his neighbor shot to death by a militia,” Herbach further shared on his post. “Grandpa watched the men kick the body into a ditch. The family had to leave Eastern Europe.” He expressed his unhappiness that southern Minnesota is now taking part in refusing refugees who have a similar story to his family’s.         

Herbach still has hope, however.

“I believe in learning,” he said near the end of his blog. “I believe in our capacity to change. I believe in redemption.”

Herbach also said he did not want his main character, Reed, to come from an obvious place and to relay that social injustice can happen to all kinds of people from anywhere.

In writing his book, Herbach’s hope is that it will encourage his readers to be kind to others and when it comes to doing the right thing, having the courage to do it.

Reed learns to be courageous in two incidents. One time is in a critical scene when one of his good friends walks off a basketball court in protest and Reed decides that he will follow him, despite that it means risking the loss of a full-ride college scholarship.

Herbach says the other scene is too complicated to condense and without giving too much away, but generally Reed recognizes the love and support that surrounds him and that he can risk doing what he is good at so he can do the right thing. 

As with every book he writes, Herbach enjoys when the theme rises after several drafts and many revisions.

For aspiring writers, Herbach warns that the writing process does not become any easier even after a ninth book but encourages persistence and determination as those qualities do pay off.

Herbach is looking forward to a book signing at Barnes & Noble in the River Hills Mall on Sunday, Feb. 25 at 3. He will also read a chapter from Hooper and answer any questions his listeners and readers will have. 

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