Pete Friedman pretty much has it made. He is a talented photographer, a baseball star, part of a talented pitcher/catcher combination with his best friend AJ, girls are beginning to notice him, and he is now in high school. But after a baseball injury and surgery result in the news that he can never play again, he finds that he cannot tell AJ the truth about his injury. Instead, he spends most of the summer with his photographer grandfather who is beginning to show signs of Alzheimers. His mother is in denial about his grandfather’s increasing problems. Since he cannot play baseball anymore, Peter takes a photography class as an elective and begins taking photos of the school’s sports teams with classmate Angelika.
Once more, Sonnenblick has written a magical blend of humor and pathos, teen angst, sports, school, tragedy, hope, friendship, and family. Peter is a likeable and believable character. His concern and worry about his grandfather, his frustration with his mother, his reluctance to tell AJ about the seriousness of his elbow injury, his relationship with Angelika all ring true. The baseball aspect makes it a book that boys will relate to and the sensitive relationship issues will appeal to the female reader. This is a book to be savored and shared.
CONNECTIONSUse this a springboard for discussion about the “aging of America” and the political, social, and medical implications.
Use this book as a book group read and afterwards have students do some volunteer hours at a nursing home.
Have a coach or a doctor speak to the class/book group about sports injuries.
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