“I’m going out for the baseball team,” Molly said.
“Not softball?” Celia said.
“Baseball,” Molly said.
“Not girls’ baseball?” Celia asked. “Not intramurals? Baseball-baseball?”
Celia was not big into sports, but even she understood it meant something to play on the boys’ baseball team. There was real status in being on the team: Not everybody who tried out made it. They played regulation baseball–a full-sized diamond and all that–and competed against schools from all over the area.
“Baseball-baseball,” Molly said. “The real deal.” [...]
“Any other girls trying out?” Celia asked. “Any other girls ever try out?”
“I don’t think so,” Molly said. (20-21)
New York eighth grader Molly Williams is still grieving her father’s death in a car accident six months ago. Her father, a big fan of baseball, passed his love of the game on to Molly and taught her how to throw the difficult knuckle ball (also known as a butterfly). Rather than play on the girl’s softball team again, which Molly sees as “second class” because her teammate practices her tap dancing in left field, Molly is intent to try out for the boy’s baseball team. But some of the boys are not interested in letting her practice, much less play ball with them.
I was somewhat surprised at the classification of young adult for this novel, because the novel seems better suited for upper elementary (like fourth or fifth grade). There are two scenes that parents might be concerned about for younger readers; one where an objectionable word is written on Molly’s locker, and another where an objectionable term is used to describe Molly (A guy who plays sports is called a jock because of the equipment, but “what about a girl who wants to be a jock?”(104)). In both instances, it’s left to the readers’ imaginations what words are used.
Publisher’s Weekly descrbes the narration as sluggish, and I quite agree. Obviously written for girl fans, the story seems predictable with Molly encountering prejudice from the boys, disagreements with her uninvolved mother, and performance anxiety on the field. Her rebellious friend Celia seems to have more personality than Molly, comparing Molly to Jackie Mitchell and Amelia Earhart, eating vegan food, knitting on the sidelines, and playing the tuba in the school band. Molly’s internal narration rings more true, especially Molly’s admission about her feelings towards her mother. “I love you and all that, but right now everything about you bothers me.” Certainly not the most action-packed sports story of all time, some readers might be left asking That’s It? at the end.