Tuesday, May 4, 2010

America's Favorite Pastime

Clarion Books, 2008
ISBN: 978-0618843480

It's the bottom of the last inning of a game between rival high school teams Oak Grove and Compton.  Oak Grove is at bat, and the stage is set for star center field Luke "Wizard" Wallace to drive in the winning run, save the game, and be the hero.  Instead, he's hit by a beanball--a wild pitch that shatters his skull and destroys the vision in his left eye.

In this riveting novel, the events surrounding a life-changing moment are presented through powerful free-verse monologues by 28 different narrators.  With its multiple voices, gripping subject matter, and fast-paced plot, Beanball is a rush of adrenaline.

"Wow" was all I thought once I finished reading this book.  It was absolutely Fantastic! Granted, this novel encompasses two of my favorite things: free verse and multiple voices. The story focuses around Luke "Wizard" Wallace who is an all around athlete--football, basketball, and baseball. While facing a main rival, Luke is beaned and partially loses his sight.  Everything in this novel just fits.

As first I was a little confused switching from one voice to the next, but as I got to know the characters I found myself asking "who are you again?" less often.  Some characters get more time than others, but this just reinforces the character and his/her part in the story.  You learn an awful lot about these people even though they spend most of their time talking/thinking about Luke and his accident.  Luke's and his parents and friends, and other bystanders (coaches for both teams, a local baseball fan, teachers) points of view paint a wonderful picture of who is affected by such incidents and, more importantly, how they are affected.

It's also a great sports novel.  There's talk of baseball and the dangers of sports in general, and it's about bouncing back from terrible situations.  It is also a novel in verse, which makes it a quick and enjoyable read.

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