Herbach’s book confronts issues of race and immigration
So many scenarios resonated with me when I read English Chair Professor Geoff Herbach’s recent book “Hooper.” It is not just another coming-of-age story, but also confronts real issues such as racism and immigration without getting in the readers face. Instead Herbach allows his readers to delve into his short but provoking chapters in telling the journey of Adam Reed, a Polish orphan who aspires to reach his goal in becoming a basketball star in the NBA.
Adam’s last name is actually Sobieski and is part of the identity he wrestles with. He realizes he has let his original last name slip when Renata adopted him when he was twelve. Throughout “Hooper”, I got the impression that Adam doesn’t know how much he should embrace of his Polish heritage because he doesn’t want to hurt Renata. However, eventually he learns that he can be open with her and that that is better than bottling up his emotions.
Herbach offers a deeper glimpse into each of the characters, not just Adam. When first introduced to Carli Anderson, she gives an impression that she is superficial but like Adam, she is learning who she is. I could even say that becoming acquainted with him and learning about him that she accepts who she is deep inside.
Barry Roland, Adam’s best friend, is great too. While he has awkward attributes, he more than proves he is a loyal friend and challenges Adam to take a brutal look at himself. In the middle of when Adam learns to navigate other friendships, he lets Barry go. Barry, who has learned inward reflection from his Tae kwon classes, lets silence speak for him and in turn, that brings back humility to Adam.
Adam deals with his own awkward side when he doesn’t believe comments he makes like saying he is glad he isn’t black, is not a degrading them. Later in the book, when he witnesses how police treat his athletic African American colleagues on the basketball team, he better understands the political ramifications. Ultimately, Adam risks losing out on the chance on becoming a basketball professional because he chooses to stand up against the social injustice.
But Renata who is a considerate person, has ingrained morals into Adam just because of how she treats other people. I also see her as the “cool mom” type. She does not pry into Adam’s business unless she observes that it affects his personal growth but mostly she allows him the opportunities that he is faced with to challenge him. What is also awesome about her is that she is her own person but, still involves Adam in her life when she starts dating Professor Mike who teaches biology.
What I liked about Hooper is that Herbach put the extra into the ordinary, which made his characters and plot extraordinary. Herbach had a way of telling a story which conveys that everyone is a human with their own personalities, strengths, and battles. It will be a book I will revisit again.
Feature photo by Rachael Jaeger | MSU Reporter.