From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—In this novel set in 1980, Madison is an awkward 12-year-old who is taller than most of the boys in her class. As summer begins, she finds herself on the outs with her friend Sara and thrust into the role of reluctant trailblazer as the first girl to play league baseball in her area of Southern Michigan. Madison's a gifted athlete, but she doesn't like being called a tomboy and she's not sure how she feels about baseball. She loves to pitch, but is uncomfortable with the pressure and the crowds and is self-conscious about her changing body. She struggles to fit in with her teammates, developing a crush on one boy and finding an unexpected ally in another. Also, she finds herself bristling at her mother's attempts to be supportive. The coming-of-age theme is familiar, but Madison's voice and perceptions ring true. At times, Day's plot feels a bit overcrowded and a few of the supporting characters seem one-dimensional, but these are small missteps in an otherwise engaging novel. Recommend this book to readers who enjoyed Kristi Roberts's My Thirteenth Season
(Holt, 2005) and Dori Hillestad Butler's Sliding into Home
(Peachtree, 2003).—Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA
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Baseball has been 12-year-old Madison’s passion for years, in contrast to the makeup, clothes, and hairstyles that her best friend, Sara, can’t live without. In fact, Madison is such a good pitcher that her older brother, David, who has coached her for years, finds a boys’ team for her to join, making hers the first team to accept a girl in southern Michigan. As a media storm gradually brews around her, Madison hunkers down to become a valuable team player, pitching and hitting her way to the championship. Set in 1980, Day’s novel explores both the mixed emotions many teenage girls encounter as they move between the rough-and-tumble life of childhood sports and more ladylike pursuits as well as the additional pressure Madison feels by being the first girl to play on a boys’ baseball team. History is full of sport stories about first females, but YA fiction is not, making this perceptive, enjoyable title, packed with exciting baseball, particularly welcome. Grades 6-9. --Frances Bradburn