October 3, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip

by Jordan Sonnenblick
ages: 12+
First sentence: "The very first thing I can remember is this: I am really, really mad at my mom for some reason."
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Peter Friedman lives for baseball. He's a pitcher who loves the game. No, more than that: he works super hard at it, and is planning on making it his life. And so, what is he going to do now that an injury to his elbow puts him completely out of commission.

Not "out of commission" as in when he heals, he will pitch again. No: he will never play the game again. Ever.

Aimless, he finds himself in an upper class photography class with another freshman, Angelika. And he finds himself not only wanting to spend more time with her, but with photography.

One of the things I really like about Sonenblick's writing is that he does guys well. They're guy-y (yes, that is a word), and real, and yet there's an intelligence about them that suggests maybe sports and guys and all that aren't nearly as cavemanish as we women seem to make them out to be.

I enjoyed Peter struggling with school and how to tell his best friend AJ that he won't ever be playing baseball. And I really enjoyed the whole photography framework.

There was a second storyline, where Peter's grandfather develops Alzheimer's, that didn't work quite as well. I guess Sonnenblick felt he needed something Deep in the book, and he needed to have some conflict between Peter and his Grandpa (since they were Best Buds), but I thought it was a bit unfair to place the burden of the grandfather's deteriorating condition on Peter's shoulders. Again, I understand the reality of this -- what kid who loves and is close to their grandparent won't feel some of the burden of their declining health -- but it didn't work as well as a storytelling device for me.

But that's a small quibble in an otherwise good novel.


morninglight mama said...

I so agree with your assessment about Sonnenblick writing guys well. I really enjoyed this book, too, and it was the ONE book I had hoped to nominate for the Cybils... I couldn't stay up late enough to catch them when they opened (past midnight my time), and by 6 am my time, it was already nominated. Curses to you, Ms. Yingling!! (Just kidding, of course!!) :)

Ms. Yingling said...

Hmmm... I see your point about the grandfather, but I actually really liked that part. Have to see what kids think. And bwa ha ha ha, Moonlight Mama. (Sorry!)