By Gene Fehler
Clarion Books, Hardcover, 9780618843480, 119pp.
Publication Date: February 18, 2008
It's the last inning of a high school baseball game between arch-rivals Oak Grove and Compton. Center fielder Luke "Wizard" Wallace steps up to the plate--and is hit by a beanball, a wild pitch that shatters his skull, destroys the vision in his left eye, and changes his life forever.
In this riveting novel, the events surrounding this pivotal moment are recounted through free-verse monologues by 28 different voices, including those of Luke and his Oak Grove teammates; the pitcher, Kyle Dawkins, and other Compton players; the two coaches; Luke's family members and teachers; and Sarah Edgerton, a new classmate who seems more affected by Luke's injury than his girlfriend is.
With its unusual format, gripping subject matter, and economy of language, Beanball is a thought-provoking, fast-paced read.
The story is well paced, quite satisfying, and will appeal to the reluctant reader.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)
In his debut novel, Fehler succeeds at every level.
Poet and baseball enthusiast Fehler should attract a crowd with his first YA novel, narrated by 28 narrators in free-verse monlogues. . . . Fehler does an excellent job in pacing his shifts of perspective, and the central story, of Luke's friendships and eventual recovery, comes through with drama and clarity.
The short, terse narrative will attract reluctant readers, and Luke's nightmarish ordeal will keep them turning the pages.