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“There’s nothing for a few seconds, then it shows the little dot-dot-dot that means he’s typing, so I wait. But after a few minutes, there’s still no reply. I’m thinking about how it must be a pretty long message when the green [online] dot next to his name disappears,” Bunny reflects after being ghosted by Nasi. — After the Shot Drops
After the Shot Drops
by Randy Ribay
AR Test, Diverse Characters
After the Shot Drops follows the story of a friendship between two high school sophomores, Bunny and Nasir. Although they have been best friends since childhood, their friendship begins to deteriorate after Bunny transfers from Whitman High to a private, affluent, less-diverse school. Bunny, a rising star in high school basketball, has a dream for making it to the NBA. He is noticed for his athletic prowess, but the path to making his basketball dream may lead him to losing Nasir as both a friend and confidante.
Besieged with problems of his own, Nasir must prevent his impoverished cousin, Wallace, from becoming homeless. Wallace is in debt and on the verge of homelessness. In order to make money quickly, Wallace bets against Bunny’s team in the upcoming basketball state championships. However, thanks to Bunny’s amazing basketball skills, this plan quickly falls apart with terrible consequences for Wallace, Nasir, and ultimately Bunny.
After the Shot Drops is told in an alternating pattern of first-person accounts, thus weaving together a narrative about the lives of both main characters, Bunny and Nasir. Each chapter shifts between both characters, which allows the audience to create a sympathetic connection to each of them. Each character must find themselves amidst their drama making their struggles highly relatable. Although Bunny and Nasir become increasingly distant, the audience is treated to both the joys and sorrows from each of their perspectives.
Through the lens of basketball, Ribay demonstrates the awesome, yet sometimes divisive power of competitive ambition. In this touching story of friendship, readers will learn about the difficulties facing people of color in America. While the book does not directly address racism, certain instances and scenes poke holes in prevailing stereotypes in order to defy them. While there are a few violent scenes and swear words, Ribay strategically uses these devices to intensify the story’s drama.
After the Shot Drops is a face-paced, intense, and often empathetic story that highlights the difficulties of balancing friendships. Ribay’s exciting descriptions of basketball games and character building lead the audience towards forging a real and very moving connection with each character.
- Bunny and his girlfriend, Keyona, exchange intimate kisses while standing next to traffic. “Some passing car beeps its horn, and then another car honks at us, and then another like it’s become a thing everyone’s doing. We start laughing even as we’re still kissing”
- While at the victory party, Bunny fantasizes in a direct, suggestive manner about his new friend Brooke. “To be honest, I try to not look at her butt, but it’s right there and it’s looking real nice in those jeans”
- In an act of revenge against Bunny’s betrayal, Wallace convinces a hesitant Nasir to paint the front of Bunny’s house with a smattering of eggs. Wallace “cocks his arm back and chucks the egg. It hits the brick of the Thompsons’ row house with a small but oddly satisfying ”
- After making a few bad bets on local sports, Wallace is punched in the face at a party by one of the gamblers as a warning. “[The stranger’s] fist cracks into the side of Wallace’s jaw, and Wallace drops to the ground like a sack of bricks”
- To sublimate his guilt, Nasir plays a shooting video game in which he kills Nazi zombies. “I pull the trigger the moment the Nazi zombie shambles out of the darkness and into my crosshairs. Head shot. Blood, brain matter, and skill fragments spray the wall.”
- After falling further in debt with the gamblers, Wallace tells Nasir that he faces pretty fatal consequences unless he is able to pony up the money. Specifically, Wallace reflects on the story of a former late classmate as he says, “Word on the street is that the bullet he caught by accident was meant for someone who fucked with these guys.”
- During the heat of the third quarter in the state championship game, Bunny takes an elbow directly to the face. The opponent “looks to the outside like he’s going to pass but then pivots, swinging his elbows—clocks me right in the nose.” He was knocked unconscious with a nearly broken, bleeding nose.
- A heated shouting and punching match begins between Bunny and Wallace. Bunny sees “Wallace standing there, holding something and pointing it at me – he shifts, and it glints, catching the light from one of the faraway streetlamps. It’s a gun.” Wallace aims and shoots Bunny straight in the chest. Bunny is quickly rushed to the hospital after massive blood loss but eventually makes a full recovery.
Drugs and Alcohol
- While skipping out on class, Bunny’s peers at St. Sebastian’s attempt to get him to smoke weed for his first time.
- After going to the movies with Nasir, Wallace lights up a joint. Wallace “fishes a blunt from his pocket and lights up right there in front of the theater.”
- Nasir and Wallace attend a house party in which many guests are using drugs and alcohol. “Most [people here] look like they’re college age, and most have a drink in one hand and a cigarette or blunt in the other.”
- After winning a game without Bunny playing, the St. Sebastian’s team celebrates by throwing a classic high school party laden with cheap alcohol and drugs. “There are red cups arranged in a triangle at either end. Two guys are trying to toss a Ping-Pong ball into the cups on the opposite end.”
- After winning the state championship, Nasir and Bunny catch up in their neighborhood but are approached by a drunk Wallace, who is brandishing a gun. Nasir notices Wallace approaching “… as soon as I see his tall figure making its way toward us, kicking up the snow like a playground bully kicking over some kid’s block city, I know something’s not right. He’s swaying, clutching a bottle in a paper bag in one hand and a lit cigarette in the other.”
- While Nasir and Wallace are at the cinema, they encounter Bunny and his girlfriend Keyona, whom Nasir had a crush on. Wallace finds Bunny, Nasir and Keyona and says “There you are, Nas. Shit, I thought you abandoned my ass.”
- After coating Bunny’s house with eggs, Wallace tells Nasir to “[g]et this shit out of your system, or I’ll empty the rest of this carton on his house myself.”
- Inside the Thompsons’ row house, Bunny and Keyona are studying while they hear the muted thumping of eggs against the side of the house. Keyona says, “I’m sorry that people can’t let it go. That you have to deal with this ignorant shit.”
- Wallace rebukes Bunny in an attempt to further ingratiate himself with Nasir. “Wallace spits. ‘Man, fuck Bunny.’ And even though he’s expressed similar sentiments before, his words feel laced with a new level of malice.”
- While driving Nasir to a party in their neighborhood, Wallace colorfully expresses his frustration with the lack of available parking. “Wallace slams his fists on the steering wheel. ‘Goddammit, motherfucking, bitch-ass, motherfucker,’ he mutters around the cigarette.”
- Wallace tries to convince Nasir to befriend Bunny again in order to make him lose an upcoming game as he says “I know this isn’t easy for you, Nas, and I know I can be a dickhead some of the time – okay, a lot of the time – but I appreciate you trying to help out me and G[randma].”
- With words flitting through his anxious mind, Nasir reflects on his plan to force Bunny to sit out for the rest of the season. “ Fearful. Friendless. Fucked.”
- After a string of seemingly unfair calls made by a basketball referee, one of Bunny’s teammates exclaims loudly, “Bullshit!”
- In the state championship game, Bunny believes the referee is making unfair calls and cries, “Bullshit!”
- At the park, an inebriated Wallace confronts Bunny saying, “Fuck you.”
- To renew their friendship, Bunny takes Nasir to St. Sebastian’s and to the school’s library, which is large. Nasir says, “What’s up there. . . God?”
by Daniel Klein