Friday, October 26, 2012

Review: Curveball

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip
By Jordan Sonnenblick
Published 2012 by Scholastic

When a bizarre baseball accident leaves Peter unable to pitch, he begins to wonder if there is life without baseball. So he throws himself into his photography class. Of course, it doesn't hurt that there's a very intriguing - and cute - girl in class with him...

That's not a terribly good summary (I seem to be getting worse at those), as this book is about much more than what I've described there. But ignore my summary and focus on this: Sonnenblick has become one of my go-to authors for smart, funny, realistic, and emotional reads, particularly for teen boys. I was so excited to snag a copy of this book at ALA - I'd read two other Sonnenblick novels (and a third since then) and absolutely loved them. His books really tap into the adolescent brain. Sonnenblick chooses interesting and appealing storylines to hook his readers and then delivers them fantastic, easy-to-relate-to characters and an emotional punch. This is a sports book, but also not a sports book. It's about growing up, figuring out your identity (especially in high school), struggling through changing relationships and family. For me, the strongest aspect of any Sonnenblick novel is his ability to create characters I care about, characters I'd want to be friends with. Curveball is no exception. From Peter to his grandfather to A.J. to Angelika, these are characters who I actually believe in, the kind that make me sad to remember that this is a book and these people aren't real. I love that Sonnenblick is able to strike a perfect balance between regular growing up issues and tougher stuff - in this case, Grampa's Alzheimer's. Many teens are dealing with these tougher issues and will appreciate seeing their own experiences in books they might actually enjoy. I think Sonnenblick is a fantastic author and will eagerly anticipate anything he writes.

Thanks to the publisher for an advance reader's copy.

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