Welcome to Reader vs. Reader (anyone have any wicked name suggestions???). Two librarians who have read the same book will discuss it critically. They may agree, agree on certain points, or completely disagree. RvR will challenge your reading comfort zone and dig deeply into the text to find potential problems or subtle brilliance. And maybe both.
In April, Andrea and Pam both read A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White
Eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty just made history. Her high school’s star pitcher, she is now the first woman drafted by a major league baseball team. Only days after her high school graduation, she’ll join the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Class A Short Season team . . . but not everyone is happy to have her there.
On top of the pressure heaped on every pitcher, Jill must deal with defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, all while living away from home for the first time. She’ll go head-to-head against those who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. Despite the reassurance of coaches and managers alike, a few of her teammates are giving her trouble. The media presence following her at each game is inescapable. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Didn’t baseball used to be fun?
The Quick Reactions:
|Pam: Oh my gosh: two thumbs way up! This book is probably one of my favorites of the year so far–probably because it’s something I would have never picked up and it was compelling and funny and it actually made me care about baseball
Andrea:I absolutely adore this book and is hands down my favorite book of the year. I am a baseball girl and I’m always intrigued by the idea of a professional woman player
Snippet of our conversation (Warning: spoilers everywhere!):
Pam: Like … I don’t even know how to express how much I loved this book. Why aren’t more people talking about it??? *shouts* READ THIS BOOK RIGHT NOW. EVERYONE. DO IT
Andrea: Agree. This one is totally a fly under the radar, but it needs way more love. I especially love how she’s not 100% sure. She knows she loves baseball & pitching, but she’s not sure if going pro was necessarily the right choice
Pam: Yes!!! And once she gets into the minors, she starts to realize that not everyone can make a career out of this, and it might even be okay if they don’t. I loved her first “adulting” experiences too. They were so authentic.
Andrea: Yes. I love how she kind of freaks out about the polos.
Pam: Yes!!! And she’s so proud of herself for figuring out what to do. I wanted to hug her.
Andrea: In my mind I kept thinking, just go buy some! You have lots of money, honey. But it was such a teen thing to do
Pam: Right! Especially since it seems like she was ultra focused on sports and school when she was in high school, so mom probably did all of that anyway. And I also really enjoyed how her mom wasn’t the biggest baseball fan in the world, but she still let Jill make the decisions about her life.
Andrea: Yes, I loved her mother. We don’t get to see good/normal parents in YA very often and I adored how everyday she was. She kind of hated baseball, but supported her daughter—even if she didn’t really want her to go that path. Also, kudo points for the Aunt as well.
Pam: Yep. Parents in YA are either absent or totally histrionic. This was just a normal mom. Another thing that just charmed me was that Jill enjoyed learning languages and made an effort to reach out to people who didn’t speak a lot of English, but it never came off as patronizing. She just wanted to communicate, so she tried and she probably made mistakes but that’s ok
Andrea: She generally seemed to care—maybe not as much as “Mother”—but she seemed to have fun learning new languages
Pam: The only thing that baffled me was that she went straight to the minors after the Pirates signed her. This whole process wasn’t super clear to me (I actually googled “What happens after a player is signed in the MLB draft”
Andrea: From my understand, I think most picks start in the minors and then get pulled up from there, but yes, that was one thing not readily explained very well & expected you to know about how baseball works
Pam: For being America’s pastime I think it’s complicated.
But people probably say that about football too so ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Andrea: Yeah, I don’t have any idea how football works. And honestly, I kind of only knew about baseball because of PITCH and some other things here and there. But granted I’m not a die hard baseball fan, just something I enjoyed growing up
Also, can I just proclaim my love for the guys on the team? Yes, a few were idiots, but most were willing to give Jill a chance. I easily fell in love with “Mother” and how he held the team together.
Pam: Marcus! Yes! And the guy who beat up the other guy who defaced Jill’s locker–the one whose family member was a women’s studies major! And Jill said something like “Wow, he actually listened to what his sister was saying!”
Andrea: And I loved Scott and Hector as well. But I really loved how she showed a great range of talent. Like Marcus knew he’d never got to the major league, but he still needed to give it a go. And Scott! He will most likely make it, but he seemed so humble and whatever about his talent.
Pam: I am also REALLY glad that the drama with Caleb didn’t turn into a GIANT PLOT POINT. I feel like in the hands of a different author, he would have been The Bad Guy who assaults Jill but she is #sobrave and he gets his comeuppance and she is the winner of all the things. But that’s not how life is. Jerks aren’t always total losers–Caleb has innate talent.
Andrea: Agreed. I liked that the jerkface wan an unknown player. Yes, Caleb was a jerk as well, but he toed the line.
Pam: Yeah-he got sent packing and she had to work through it, but they all moved on.
Andrea: Nods. And I think it was a great moment of showing the other guys really did have her back. Even when Caleb there’s a lot of Shut ups. But the guys does have talent and she’ll encounter egomaniacs like him a lot
Andrea: My only complaint is how it ended. I wanted more. Did Caleb stick around? What happens to the team? I was really hoping maybe this would be a series, but seriously….I need more.
Pam: I would LOVE it if this became a series. But I think it also kinda fits with the whole approach of the the book–this is how life goes. It’s not tidy and all wrapped up and plotted out perfectly. It’s kind of a slog. Even if you make a lot of money as a professional athlete.
But I would be so, so, SO on board with more books
Andrea: I just feel like there is so much more to tell about Jill and the team as a whole. Did she finally get her focus back? I just felt a tad bit abrupt, even though it technically fit.
I’m also still kind of super sad that this one will probably stay under the radar, even though it deserves a ton of love.
Pam: ME TOOOOO.