Book review by
Rachel Sarah, Common Sense Media
Hooper Book Poster Image
Poignant tale of Polish immigrant teen's struggle to fit in.

Parents say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Kids say

No reviews yetAdd your rating

Did this review miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive, diverse representations in books, TV shows, and movies. Want to help us help them? Suggest a diversity update

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Shows what it's like to grow up as a contemporary adopted teen who immigrates to the United States and plays on a mixed-raced sports team. 

Positive Messages

Important messages about the need for connection, friendship, and being part of a team. Do your best, make the right choices, and stand up to bullies. Explores mature themes such as parent abandonment, death, and a parent drinking.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Adam's adoptive mom, Renata, found Adam cold, hungry, alone in a park in Poland when she was doing research in Europe. After adopting him, she tries to help him transition to a new life, and shows deep empathy for Adam's friend, Barry, an ostracized kid who lives in a trailer park and does Tae Kwon Do. Carli's adoptive father, a college coach, sees the potential in Adam and gets him a tryout for an AAU team.


A scene where Adam is bullied; the incident erupts into a fight, but it's not graphic. Adam's father's drinking told in backstory, but again it's not graphic.


Teen romance with one brief kissing scene and flirting on the court. No overt sexual situations.


Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "f--k, "d--k," "bitch," "a--hole," and "damn."


Some name brands mentioned, including sports teams such as the Philadelphia 76ers and stars such as Steph Curry, Michael Jordan, LeBron James. Many social media mentions, such as YouTube, Twitter. Also McDonald's and a Lexus SUV.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Adam's father's drinking is mentioned in backstory, without graphic scenes, and there's one mention of college kids drinking at a restaurant.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Hooper is a realistic contemporary novel by YA author Geoff Herbach in which a 16-year-old sophomore who was recently adopted from Poland by a single mom starts high school in the small town of Mankato, Minnesota. Adam Sobieski, who now calls himself Adam Reed, narrates the story in sometimes-broken English with humor and honesty about his love of basketball, his alcoholic father who abandoned him, his mother's death, and racial tension in his new community. Parents should be prepared to discuss immigrating to a new country, the process of grieving, class and money issues, and bullying. There's some typical strong language, including "s--t" and "f--k," and a bullying incident erupts into a fight. Sexual content is limited to flirting and one brief kissing scene.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

What's the story?

In HOOPER, 16-year-old Adam Reed, a recent Polish immigrant who was adopted by a single mom, first finds happiness in America on the basketball court. After getting tapped to play on a select AAU team along with some of the best players in the state, he wants to believe that basketball is his ticket to the good life. It's definitely a way to get closer to his new crush, Carli Anderson, a basketball star who smells like honey and feels empathy for Adam. But after a bullying incident turns violent and the police are called, Adam's future might be in jeopardy.

Is it any good?

This is a compelling coming-of-age YA novel about basketball, prejudice, privilege, and family. Hooper is raw, funny, and honest, and about so much more than basketball. There are many layers here about class, racial injustice ("being white and rich makes you think you have the keys to the whole damn world"), and what loyalty in friendship and family means. Teens will love all the basketball adrenaline-filled scenes on court, the short chapters and rocking chapter titles, and especially Adam's emotional insight and humor.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Hooper explores the challenge of moving to a new country where you struggle to speak the language. What other books and movies can you think of that tackle a teen immigrating to the United States and starting a new life?

  • How would it feel to start at a new school in a small town where you don't know anyone? How might life be hard if you were the new kid who didn't know the rules? What wouldn't you want people to discuss about your family and life if you'd just been adopted and registered at a new high school?

  • How does forgiveness help in Hooper? Have you ever had trouble forgiving a family member? How did that affect your relationship?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love coming-of-age stories and sports

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Top advice and articles

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate