Batboy (Lupica)

Book Reviews
After Brian Dudley lands his dream job as a batboy for the Detroit Tigers, he is disappointed when his hero, Hank Bishop, who has been given a final chance by the Tigers after a steroid scandal, proves to be uncommunicative and even hostile....  Lupica has hit upon an effective formula for his novels, giving his readers a behind-the-scenes look at major league sports. In this novel, he adds genuine insights into family dynamics and the emotional state of his hero. —Todd Morning

(Grade 5–10) Brian's dad, a former big league pitcher, left Brian and his mom years earlier, and the boy still longs for his return. This summer, Brian has won a coveted spot as a batboy for the Detroit Tigers during home games at Comerica Park. He relishes his dream come true: hustling to complete tasks, enjoying a sleepover at the ballpark, and his front-row seat for the on-field action. On his days off, he plays on a travel team with his best friend, Kenny. Then his favorite player, Hank Bishop, returns to the Tigers following a suspension for steroid use. Bishop is stumbling at the end of his career: this is his last chance to reach a milestone 500 home runs. Brian shyly attempts to befriend his hero, but Bishop treats Brian and his teammates with frosty disdain. Lupica is at the top of his game, crafting a crisp, fast-paced novel teeming with edge-of-the-seat baseball drama. He limns his characters with well-observed detail and dialogue. Brian is a recognizable, multilayered teen; he's close to his mom, though they struggle to communicate and understand one another. Meanwhile, he learns the hard truth: "no matter how much Brian loved baseball, it was never going to make his father love him more." Though this novel will undoubtedly appeal to those who equate summer with baseball, it should also win over readers who appreciate finely crafted storytelling and engaging characters. —Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
Library Journal

Brian loves baseball. But baseball has not always been a positive influence in his emotional life. His parents are divorced due in large part to the fact that his father's devotion to his own baseball career far exceeded his feelings for his family. In addition, Brian's all-time favorite player was deeply involved in the steroid scandals that affected an entire era of baseball achievements and statistics. Now in one dream summer as batboy for the Detroit Tigers he learns some truths about second chances and letting go. When his absentee father briefly returns, Brian realizes that their relationship will never be more than a common interest in the game. But he does develop a tentative connection with his hero, who is making a comeback with the Tigers. Lupica takes on these touchy subjects and deftly fleshes them out with sympathetic characters, crisp dialogue and enough dramatic baseball action to satisfy the most diehard fan. Although there's an upbeat ending, not all problems are neatly solved, allowing readers to form their own opinions. A pennant winner..
Kirkus Reviews

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