CM . . .
. Volume XXIII Number 27. . . .March 24, 2017
Two Strikes. (Sports Stories).
Toronto, ON: James Lorimer & Co., 2016.
136 pp., trade pbk. & epub, $12.95 (pbk.).
ISBN 978-1-4594-1147-0 (pbk.), ISBN 978-1-4594-1148-7 (epub).
Grades 4-6 / Ages 9-11.
Review by Teresa Iaizzo.
Everything was far from all right. She dreaded going to school the next day. She was nervous about playing baseball with the boys. She missed Halifax and her old friends. Her whole world was upside down. Her dad couldn’t possibly understand.
Two Strikes is an endearing coming-of-age story about young KaLeah (Kal) Watson, an eighth grader who moves from Halifax, NS, to Trail, BC, with her recently widowed father. At its core, the novel revolves around Kal’s quest to find where she belongs.
When readers first meet Kal, she is a newcomer to the city of Trail. She feels all alone, (she particularly misses her deceased mother), and she particularly does not feel like she belongs in the ethnically homogenous town where her father has forced her to move. The town’s one redeeming quality is its devotion to the game of baseball, a sport that Kal is great at. However, once Kal proves that she’s the best in town, she has to compete with the Valley Girls who relentlessly bully her. In an attempt to break free from the Valley Girls, Kal ends up playing with the Trail Boys, an all-boys team in town. Unfortunately, some parents and players on the team have a hard time accepting Kal as they believe that a girl should not be playing on an all-boys team.
However, Kal’s problems do not end there. Not only does she have to put up with bullying and sexism in baseball, she also has to deal with a whole menagerie of teen angst including maintaining friendships, finding her first boyfriend, and even dealing with racism. In the end, not surprisingly, Kal manages to rise above all her issues in order to claim her happy ending.
Upon first inspection Two Strikes seems like a straightforward novel about a young girl who just wants to play baseball in a small town. However, this little book deals with far greater issues such as identity, racism, and gender politics. Although the central plot revolves around Kal and her love of baseball, the overarching narrative revolves around the concept of acceptance, in particular, acceptance of oneself. As such, I would recommend this novel to any young person who is searching for his or her own acceptance.
Teresa Iaizzo is a Senior Library Assistant with the Toronto Public Library.
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