“Sometimes the corniest things are the things we need to say the most, the things people need to hear the most.”
I need help.
I miss you.
I should have told you.
After The Shot Drops by Randy Ribay could have been titled The Importance of Being Earnest (I’m told this title is already taken). Sure, Ribay’s powerful narrative is also part of a LeBron-like run of great young adult basketball novels (The Crossover/Rebound, Boy21, Hooper, All American Boys, The Hate U Give), but like those novels, After The Shot Drops has higher goals and largely reaches them.
Ball is life for teenage prodigy Bunny, so much so that he transfers from his public school to an elite private school to maximize his potential and exposure. But has he left himself behind in doing so? Is his identity at St. Sebastian’s only that of a basketball god for hire? Can he handle the incredible whiteness of being at such a school? Has he betrayed his past?
His friends from Whitman seem to think so. In particular, his best friend and neighbor Nasir has ghosted him since the decision to transfer. Bunny throws himself into basketball with even more fervor and focus, and his game and his fame increase exponentially as St. Sebastian’s marches toward the state championship.
Meanwhile, Nasir (the novel is told in alternating narration between Nasir and Bunny) tries to help his cousin Wallace extricate himself from his difficult economic reality, a reality made even more difficult by Wallace’s life choices. Speaking of difficult, Nasir discovers Bunny is now dating Keyona, Nasir’s long-time crush from Whitman. Both Bunny and Nasir miss the solace their friendship provided, but pride/male stubbornness prevents the rapprochement both crave. Finally, circumstances (in other words, no spoilers) push Nasir and Bunny back together, threatening Bunny’s basketball dreams and more than just their friendship.
In a broader American culture where too many males are more comfortable handling weapons than their emotions, stories like After The Shot Drops are vital. Taking on the “guy code” and the “code of the streets,” Ribay shows in After The Shot Drops how friendship and honesty can crack these codes.