I received this ARC when I visited YALC (Young Adult’s Literature Convention) last summer in London. Of course since I have magnificent eyesight and an even better memory *said with dripping sarcasm* I haven’t noticed that it’s an ARC and I assumed it was just a free giveaway, then I stored it somewhere in the bookshelf and kind of forgot about it….
But I got my hands on it, and I’m ecstatic that I discovered this YA book!
It absolutely sucks that I can’t find the star ratings on WordPress, it looked aesthetically pleasing…how annoying. I’m using my usual Goodreads scoring out of 5 till I figure out what’s going on. (Want an honest review? Refer to my contact page)
Description Summary | A riveting underdog tale that doesn’t fall for the hallmark victory movies that you got repeated. It will leave your heart soaring and your fists pounding as you follow Laz’s personal journey to victory.
Rating | 4.5 / 5
”Half-brothers, but full team-mates”
Laz Weathers and Antonio Driver are brothers that are as different as they can be: Laz is not great with his academics mainly due to his learning disability, while Antonio was a straight A student. Laz was shy and awkward while Antonio was the life of the party. Laz’s first instinct is to shut down and run, Antonio would be gearing up for a fight.
Though they shared a bond through baseball. Baseball was everything to Laz, it came to him like breathing air and moving muscle. Like how flying came to birds and swimming came to fish; it was nature’s calling to him.
Having shined as a star pitcher on his broken down high school North Central, his baseball coach pitched in a good word for him to the glitzy and rich highschool across town: Laurelhurst High. Laurelhurst High had one of the best teams in Seattle, and after making it through tryouts Laz can’t believe the opportunities that had opened up to him.
However, the family faces a setback when a multimillion corporation decides to tear down their trailer park.
Mr.Thurman, father to star player of the team Ian Thurman, offers to house Laz at his home for the duration of his high school year since he’s made to the team and they’re counting on Laz to get them the state championship especially since Laurelhurst lost three years in a row. Laz is thrown in a whirlwind where he becomes from nobody to star pitcher of acclaimed Laurelhurst high school. With fame comes it’s trials and challenges, and Laz must try to prove to himself and to everyone that this poor kid from a ramshackle trailer park with a learning disability deserves his worth.
But just as Laz is going up, Antonio starts mixing with the wrong crowd getting involved with drugs and gangs. Laz is in a tough spot to protect the closest person to him in this world and trying to secure the position of a lifetime.
This is one of the most important YA books.
This is one of the most important YA books.
The story is just fantastic, Deuker’s writing is gripping and had me glued to the spine of the book watching and reading every move our MC is going to do. Speaking of the MC, Laz Weathers is possibly one of my fav YA characters out there. And I love that Deuker portrayed an MC with a disability (stuttering and learning disabilities in this case) in the way that he did. Laz’s disabilities did not prevent him from dreaming and dreaming big, nor does his background or run down neighbourhood presents as an obstacle to him.
I think a lot of teens and young adults would really benefit from reading something like this, a coming of age story with ups and downs, where not everyone wins and life may seem unfair but you get by and by getting by you realize that that is a personal victory all on its own.
The story was perfect. The plot solid. It has a clear timeline and you think you know how everything is going to go, but then the Deuker makes a sharp twist and you’re kept thinking “what if”. The sense of hope remained throughout the whole story till the very end; a true underdog tale through and through. I loved how he did not go with the typical “white savior complex” trope where a wealthy white family “saves” a poor kid from his “dangerous” neighbourhood…even though most likely their son/daughter are buying drugs from these same “dangerous” people.
I really loved the way this book was written, the writing style was smooth like river water. Deuker wrote the baseball matches in a way that even to me someone who never watched baseball in their entire life managed to hold her breath anticipating the home runs and the strikeouts.
The setting and landscape was believable (not Riverdale basically…). The sense of place was greatly defined by the author and you can tell how the state of fields that Laz played on got better in quality by how descriptive the author got on the state of surroundings. Little things like how fine cut that green grass was or how worn out that leather glove is may seem unimportant but it delivers a more visual picture to the reader.
Laz is my favorite thing from this book. I swear when he reached the state championship all for THAT to happen, I was crying like a mother who watched her son get rejected from his dream university. But then at the end of the book THAT happened and this time my eyes were bawling.
Here’s where it lost a bit for me: The secondary characters and their relationships with the MC.
I wish there more in depth exploration about Ian; I want to know why is his relationship with his dad the way it is? What got him doing the things he did? How did he feel about Laz moving in? Does baseball matter that much to him or is it his father’s dream? I really wanted to hear more about his POVs.
I also wish there were chapters about Antonio’s POVs; What compelled him to mix in with the “wrong crowd”? What did he think of Laz and his progress? What did he think of Curtis? We only heard Laz’s side of the story but I think Antonio’s side could have proven a strong point in the narrative of the story.
Finally I didn’t really get Suja and her relationship with Laz. She was more like his secretary or assistant than a friend. She’s kinda a pushover, not gonna lie I didn’t like her that much. Then there’s snarky Pop Vereen, man do I have some words for him.
Do I recommend? Yes! 10/10