Seth Barnam's father was a golfer, and it probably would have been Seth's game, too, but his dad died when Seth was only seven. Coming to terms with his father's death was difficult for Seth, but then he met Jimmy Winter. Jimmy has lots of baseball talent, and a father that demands perfection from him. The boys become fast friends, and both sign up for Little League, even though Seth feels inadequate compared to his new friend.
Their time together is spent practicing baseball, with Jimmy's father usually there to coach them and urge them to improve. Jimmy's intensity and self-assurance on the playing field begins to rub off onto Seth, too. He improves as a student and as a baseball player, and he dreams of being as good as Jimmy.
Then Jimmy's home life begins to unravel; his father is drinking too much and then his parents divorce. Seth is at a loss when Jimmy is caught drinking and suspended from the team. Jimmy just can't seem to get his life back on track, and his choices lead to an unexpected result.
This is an exciting novel, loaded with baseball action. It will have an intense appeal to anyone interested in that sport, but the main focus is on the friendship that develops between Seth and Jimmy, and of coping with the consequences of foolish choices, and the grief of dealing with incomprehensible loss. It's easy to read with well-developed, likable characters, a gripping plot, and plenty of action. I highly recommend this book, especially for boys, but girls will also enjoy this story of a forever kind of friendship.
Notes: An ALA Best Book for Young Adults An ALA Best Book for Reluctant Readers A New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Book of the Year.
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