I have read most of Linda Sue Park's novels, and I've enjoyed all of them. Some more than others, but I've enjoyed them all. (It's just a matter of degree.) I liked--really liked--this one. I didn't know quite what to expect. It is about baseball. Not about playing baseball necessarily, but about being a fan of the sport. About being a fan of the game, the players, the teams. Our narrator, our heroine, is Maggie, or "Maggie-O" as her father likes to call her. She's a Dodger's fan, a Brooklyn Dodgers fan. The novel is set in the early to mid fifties. (1951-1955). Her mother and brother are Dodgers fans as well. But her father is a Yankees fan. (Hence her name "Maggie-O" and his son, Joseph Michael.) Her father was a fireman. But after a serious injury (all occurring before the novel's start) he now has a desk job. Maggie, however, still visits the fire house, the firemen regularly. Not a week goes by when she doesn't go to hang out with her father's friends, her father's coworkers. She loves to listen to the baseball games on the radio with them. One of the men is new. His name is Jim. He's different from the others--he's a Giants fan. But oddly enough, though he's a fan of the wrong team, it's him that Maggie is most drawn to. He teaches her how to keep score, how to follow the game play by play on paper keeping precise records. Their friendship is real though sports-based. So the news that he has been drafted into the army effects her quite deeply.
Maggie has led a sheltered life. But Jim being sent to Korea opens her eyes a bit to the world around her. Not all at once. But slowly and surely, she is growing and changing and coming of age.
Baseball. War. Friendship. Family. This novel has a little bit of everything to offer readers. It is deeper than I thought it would be. The first half of the novel is just a sports novel. But the second half, it's about so much more. Anyway, I think this novel has something for everyone. Even if you're not a big sports fan.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews