Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip: A Home Run Read

When a freakish injury ends high school freshman Peter Friedman's career, he has a few things to figure out. Is there life after sports? Why did his grandfather just hand him thousands of dollars of camera equipment, and is it his imagination, or is the hot star of the girl's swim team flirting with him? In his new novel for tweens, Jordan Sonnenblick explores themes of friendship, romance, family, and tragedy, all with his signature humour and warmth.

A star pitcher/catcher in elementary school, Peter thought he had it all figured out. He'd play high school ball, get scouted, and eventually play in the major leagues. When he suffers a career-ending elbow injury and is told he'll never be able to play ball again, he feels like he's gotten the wind knocked out of him.

In an age where we are reading almost daily about serious injuries to young athletes, this novel imparts an important message to anyone who has ever devoted themselves to a single sport or hobby. Yeah it sucks to see your dream disappear, but when you're only 14, it's not the end of the world. He also happens to be a talented photographer (having been taught from an early age by his grandfather), and photography can open up a host of new possibilities for him- if only he'll allow himself to see them. Not every kid is necessarily super-talented at many things, but I think the point here is that when you no longer have that all-consuming thing, you can take the time to pursue other things that interest you.

I also like how Sonnenblick explores all of the other things that go through Peter's head when he can't play baseball anymore. Baseball defined him, and without it, he has no idea what he's about or who he is. Baseball was his ticket to popularity. It's what was going to get him noticed- make him stand out. And now, he's got nothing-or so he thinks. He also worries that his best friend AJ (who also plays ball) who will get wrapped up in the team and leave him behind. For a fourteen-year-old kid, these are all valid worries, and they're handled with sensitivity and understanding.

And then there is the girl thing. Angelika, the only other freshman in his advanced photography class, is smart, cute and seems to like him, but Peter is so wrapped up in the loss of his baseball identity, he can't seem to appreciate that she likes him and not AJ.

On the home front, Peter can tell that his grandfather is acting strangely, but his parents are busy and distracted and don't really pay attention when he tries to tell them that something is wrong. Unable to get them to listen, he takes it on his shoulders and tries to handle it himself. His parents are not bad people or irresponsible- there are just some things they can't or don't want to see, and it takes something major to wake them up.

Ever since I read his d├ębut novel Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie (grab it and read it now if you haven't yet), I've been sold on Jordan Sonnenblick as a major talent.  A former 8th grade English teacher, his understanding of kids- and particularly boys- is apparent in everything he writes.  His characters are flawed, yet likeable people, and they feel like kids you either do know, or would want to know. Sonnenblick has never shied away from tackling the difficult issues, and he's also one of the few authors who can make you laugh and cry in the same book. He's got a way of bringing out the humour in the most tragic of situations, and yet he doesn't detract from the seriousness of the issue.

I could go on for pages more about how wonderful this book was, but sports fan or not, this is a must-read tween novel, and I highly recommend that you become acquainted with this incredible author.