For an eighth grader, Molly Williams has more than her fair share of problems. Her father has just died in a mysterious car accident, and her mother has become a withdrawn, quiet version of herself--a mother who orders takeout instead of cooking, and who reads shopping catalogs instead of talking to her daughter.
Molly doesn't want to be seen as Miss Difficulty Overcome; she wants to make herself known to the kids at school for something other than her father's death. So she decides to join the baseball team. The boys' baseball team. Her father taught her how to throw a knuckleball, and Molly hopes it's enough to impress her coaches as well as her new teammates.
Over the course of one baseball season, Molly must figure out how to redifine her relationship to things she loves, loved, and might love: her mother, her brilliant best friend Celia, her father, her enigmatic and artistic teammate Lonnie, and of course, baseball.
Mick Cochrane delivers an emotionally affecting and gently humorous story that is as surprising and magical as a knuckleball.
What is with all the baseball-themed Caudill books? I can handle one. I'm willing to stretch my interests. But this is the third I've read, and I simply can't care anymore. I appreciate that Molly is all in love with the sport--the clothes, the feel of a glove, the incredibly beautiful and impossible to predict butterfly pitch....but the awe translated to snoozing for me.
Sports make my brain turn off. I cannot understand their appeal.
The central premise was not the only thing I disliked, unfortunately. Molly's narration seemed to mature--she very well might have felt the things she did, but she expressed them far too eloquently. I like when books about kids sound like kids talk and understand. Celia was too well-formed of a feminist. Lonnie was too understanding for a boy with a crush. Molly was too articulate.
All of that added up to an unbelievable story. A girl played on the boys' baseball team and a family learned to continue living after the unexpected death of a beloved family member. That could have been a great story--but it wasn't.
Two out of five knuckleballs.
Release Date: February 2009
Reading Level: Grade 5+
Where In Dunlap Public Library's Collection: CAUDILL