Monday, June 27, 2016

MMGM- What, your students DON'T ask for books where people die?

I always forget that publishers aren't really interested in providing books that my students want to read. Most of my students don't buy any books. Publishers want to make money. They want to sell books. Who buys books? Parents. Librarians. Teachers. All of these people apparently want heart rending tales of young people living through harrowing experiences. I'm not sure what this says BECAUSE (REMINDER):

Also relevant: 13 percentage of US citizens are on antidepressants . Correlation (if not causation) between people depressed and number of depressing books published? You decide.

That said, this book was decent. I was just hoping for more of a sports story and less of an issue book. I wonder what the percentage of baseball fans on antidepressants is. A disproportionate number of baseball books are depressing. (This is very similar to Shang's The Way Home Looks Now and Lupica's The Only Game. Sibling dies, surviving child can't possibly return to beloved sport. Sigh.)

25721449Bishop. Jenn. The Distance to Home
June 28th 2016 by Random House/Knopf Children’s
E ARC provided by

Quinnen's sister Haley has been gone for about nine months, and the family has managed to move forward, with realistic lapses where everyone tears up and can't speak. Quinnen has decided she can't go back to playing baseball, and is irritated that her mother, in an attempt to spend more time with her, keeps suggesting activities that Haley would have liked. When the family decides to take a local baseball player in for a homestay, Quinnen is pleased, even though the Bandit's player they get is kind of jerky. Quinnen hangs out with her friend Casey, although baseball games are hard because Zach, Haley's boyfriend and the person Quinnen holds responsible for her death, is working at a food vendor at the park. Told alternately in flashbacks and in the present time, we see Quinnen and her parents coming to terms with their loss and figuring out how they can continue to incorporate baseball into their lives. 
Strengths: Quinnen plays baseball, which is a nice touch. There is ONLY the death of the sister, not piles and piles of sadness heaped upon the family's shoulders. There's some nice touches about the difficulties the sisters had because of the 6 year age difference, as well as some tween angst. 
Weaknesses: Why not an upbeat baseball book with the drama coming from the homestay players or perhaps Casey and Quinnen falling out because one makes the team and the other doesn't? 
What I really think: Will probably buy, but don't have to be happy about it. The cover saves this one, actually-- it looks the same as the new Nancy Drew and Phoebe Rivers books.


  1. It's really ridiculous. I went through Publishers Weekly's Fall 2016 announcements on Edelweiss, and so many books were about the death of a parent/sibling/etc (boyfriend/girlfriend in YA as well). Or about a kid going through another traumatic event. While some readers are drawn to them, the "light realistic" books that kids who don't like fantasy are not as attractive to writers, I guess.

  2. I'm certainly not one of the parents buying sad books, of course my kiddo is more of a science fiction/fantasy reader, so I tend to read these when they come to the library.

  3. Yes, I sometimes think I'm reading a kid version of those daytime soap operas. Death, mayhem, and twisted minds. Another reason why we don't see enough funny fiction: They're a challenge to write.
    This new sports themed book does remind me of THE ONLY GAME. I'll give it a go for comparison sake.

  4. Sounds a little like Lost in the Sun (Lisa Graff), too. I wonder if baseball just lends itself to being more depressing?

  5. Well, I did have a few students who asked for books where people die--especially when they discovered Lurlene McDaniel. (I always book talked these with a warning: You can't read just one), but I had many more want funny books, which were much harder to find. My favorites were those like the ones by Joan Bauer who could tackle serious issues and make me laugh. I also recommend Laurie Halse Anderson's Prom--a book she wrote in response to reader requests for a book about a normal teen like them.

  6. Yes! My 8th graders rarely go for sad. When I book talk sad/issue books, I always get the comment, "That's depressing! I won't be reading that."

  7. Stop the presses! I actually had a boy come in last week saying he liked sad books! First one I can remember in the 14 years I've been a librarian.

  8. My middle grade sons would agree. They like funny, adventures, mysteries, fantasy, but wouldn't touch a "my parent just died" book with a ten foot pole. I also like books where no one dies, but they are hard to find, especially in contemporary fiction.

  9. I do like to laugh, but I just won a copy of this book and I'm looking forward to it. Personally, I like a book that makes me cry once in awhile, and I love anything about baseball. I don't think this will be for everyone, but I think I will like it. Thanks for your thoughts.

  10. I agree that many books lack humour and yet, serious issues can be dealt with in a book that makes us laugh. I loved Zombie Baseball Beatdown because it is pretty funny and deals with important stuff. I enjoyed UPside Down Magic for the same reason. It's funny but has an underlying important message. I referred it to our class of students with language processing issues and they loved it.