Reviews for My 13th Season


Booklist Reviews 2005 March #2
/*Starred Review*/ Gr. 5-8. Perhaps it wouldn't be fair to say that baseball is 13-year-old Fran's life. Still, since her mother's death a year ago and her father's subsequent emotional withdrawal, her love of baseball has kept her grounded. When a visit from the sheriff is needed to convince her new coach that (like it or not) he has a girl on his team, her former comfort zone becomes a place of confrontation. Conflict flares when Coach insists that Fran follow the rules by wearing a jock strap, and she retaliates by blatantly throwing the game. The situation climaxes in an unforgettable scene in which he bombards her with hard-pitched balls. At that point, even her snarky teammates realize that Coach has crossed the line. But Fran has crossed a line of her own. She finds herself increasingly disconnected from her old life and unable to recover what she has lost. Funny, harsh, and poignant by turns, this strong first-person narrative establishes Fran's character through the most colorful, accessible side of her story before gradually letting readers in on her rich inner life of imagination, memory, and dreams. Readers will find Fran a sympathetic character: hopeful yet tough, caustic when provoked, and uncharacteristically docile when she loses her way. An impressive first novel. ((Reviewed March 15, 2005)) Copyright 2005 Booklist Reviews.

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2006 Spring
When star baseball player Fran, thirteen, is humiliated by her new team because she's a girl, she retaliates, and the situation spirals out of control. The baseball action is authentic, as are Fran's behavior and her feelings about her mother's death and her father's emotional withdrawal. The first-person voice, assured and strong, believably veers from tough and funny to poignant and anguished. Copyright 2006 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2005 March #2
Fran and her father had a close relationship that revolved around their mutual love of baseball. When Fran's mother died, her father withdrew into a grief so encompassing that she felt she had lost him as well. She's now on a team with a bitter, cruel coach who hates having to coach a girl. Her teammates taunt her and she's ready to quit. In a frightening, surreal incident, the coach actually tries to injure her. Although there are people in her life who would help her, she's reluctant to accept their support, instead withdrawing into a fantasy life or opting for actions that make the situations worse. Fran is a complex character and the plot is intense and well constructed. The conclusion hits just the right note, allowing new happiness and the promise of more. (Fiction. 10-14) Copyright Kirkus 2005 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2005 March
Gr 5-8-After moving to a new town, star baseball player Fran Cullers discovers that she is not welcome on the boys' team. Her father's grief over her mother's recent death prevents him from being much support or help. Although the coach is removed from the team for his abuse toward her, Fran is badly shaken and falls into a slump. She decides to give up the game, but finds that living without baseball is like living without her mom. In a fairly believable plot development, her one friend, Steven, and the Hardwares come to get Fran for an important game. Her dad rallies and coaches the Hardwares in a game in which Fran is back to her old form. Finally, it seems as though they will be able to resume their lives and share their love of baseball. The Cullers' Classic All Stars, Franny's dream team of all-time baseball greats whom she imagines talk to her, adds a touch of magical realism. The passion for baseball is an effective addition to this story about grieving over the death of wife and mother, and the supporting cast is effectively developed. Baseball terminology and names of some current players and many Hall of Famers add color to the story, but will be lost on those unfamiliar with the sport. Fran's development into a baseball player with heart makes the novel an interesting addition to fiction collections.-Debbie Stewart Hoskins, Grand Rapids Public Library, MI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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VOYA Reviews 2005 August
Thirteen-year-old Franny Cullers's fantasy baseball team, the Cullers Classic All Stars, includes baseball's best players ever-Mantle, Robinson, Gehrig-but even these superstars could not help her. Her mother died last year, she and her father live with Aunt Beth, and her father is depressed. Formerly her little league coach, he now shows little interest. And Franny's little league teammates hate girls. Despite her being the best player, they do not want her. When Coach Foster teaches them how to be hit by a pitch, he makes an example of Fran by throwing pitch after rapid-fire pitch at her. She hits every one but the next day has "the flinches" whenever her best friend, Steve, pitches to her, so she quits the team. Her plan to be the first female professional baseball player is falling apart. When her teammates, minus fired Coach Foster, ask her help in defeating the feared Foursquare Flyers, Fran hesitates. And who will coach the team Predictable? Definitely. Easy reading? Absolutely. Add "The Three Most Popular Girls in Junior High" (cheerleaders) and an eye-catching cover and the result is a perfect middle school late-summer beach read. A nice little book, it presents a girl excelling in a "man's" sport. One likes Fran and Steve and dislikes her narrow-minded teammates. But the reader knows that they will come around, dad will wake up, and all will be right with the world. This one might be the book to get reluctant readers reading. Definitely pitch it to them (no pun intended). Middle school and public libraries should own and display this book.-Ed Goldberg 4Q 4P M Copyright 2005 Voya Reviews.

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