Lupica, Mike. The Only Game
February 17th 2015 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
E ARC from Edelweiss Above the Treeline
Jack loves to play baseball for his team, the Rays, especially since his best friend Gus is on the team, but after the death of his brother Brad in a dirt biking accident, he quits the team, much to the consternation of everyone around him. The only person who understands is Cassie, who plays softball, and Jack starts hanging out with her and helping with her team. Since he and Gus are at odds, he also starts hanging out with out of shape Teddy, and tries to get him to play baseball. About half way through the book, we find that Jack isn't playing ball because it is his self-inflicted punishment for feeling responsible for not stopping his brother from being an idiot, and he starts to play again, eventually getting Teddy on the team as a catcher and... surprise... helping the Rays make it all the way to the Little League World Series. This is the first in a series of four books, and I hope to heck that the rest aren't this depressing.
Strengths: Baseball is involved, the parents aren't dead, and Lupica writes great girl characters.
Weaknesses: This isn't an amusing book at all. It's just pages and pages of sheer depression. Jack needs some serious therapy. Why isn't he seeing someone? And really, to have grief be this much of your daily experience a year after losing the brother. Yes, life is sad. Yes, you think about it. But NO, you shouldn't be indulging in this much hand wringing.
Even if people do in real life, it's BORING to read about. Boring and depressing.
Okay. Yes. I know full well that my objection to this is based on my own recent experience, but come on. Who wants to read this much gloom and doom?
No. No. No.