September 20, 2013
REVIEW: THE PITCHER by William Hazelgrove
I know you are having trouble. Just remember that you can do anything you want if you put your mind to it. Don't worry about me. I will always be there for you. I will always be with you. Just take your breath and listen to what Mr. Langford tells you. Remember I will always love you and that will never change. You are becoming a fine young man and a great baseball player. I couldn't be prouder of you. Now take your breath, find your quiet space and use the gift God gave you. I love you.
Love you forever,
P.S. Take your breath!"
THE PITCHER is destined to become a classic. It is well-written, funny, heart-warming, engaging, easy to read, romantic and uplifting. On the surface this story may seem to be all about baseball and pitchers, but it’s more than that. THE PITCHER, a Junior Library Guild Selection, is about a loving and determined Hispanic mother who will endure anything and survive everything for the love of her child and his right to fulfill his dreams; it’s about overcoming prejudice and poverty; it’s about second chances; and most of all, it’s about learning to believe in yourself.
Book Summary: 14-year-old Ricky Hernandez is about to enter high school and wants a spot on the school baseball team. The problem is his wild pitching arm. He can throw super fast but he has no control over it. Just like he has no control over his ex-father who continues to barge in and steal what little money they have; nor his grandmother’s fears of deportation; nor the rival pitcher who continually bullies him; nor his mother’s deteriorating ill health. Ricky longs for some helpful tips from another pitcher, like a World Series pitcher and MVP Jack Langford, who just happens to live next door, but Jack wants to be left alone. In fact, all anybody ever sees are his feet at the bottom of the garage door which is always down.
However, Jack doesn’t count on Maria Hernandez. She is a dynamo and will not take no for an answer, even if it means confronting a curmudgeon in his man-cave and forcing him into the light. Yet even with the MLB pitcher finally coaching him, Ricky can’t seem to find his zone. And when his mother’s health takes a turn for the worse nothing seems to matter anymore and certainly not some stupid baseball game. But Maria will not let him quit and from her hospital bed she encourages her son to prove himself and win. There is the obligatory“win this one for the coach” scene, but it rings true. And the ending is inspiring and joyful as any reader could wish.###
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Hazelgrove is the best-selling author of five novels, including THE PITCHER, a Junior Library Guild Selection. He was the Ernest Hemingway Writer in Residence, where he wrote in the attic of Ernest Hemingway's birthplace. He has written articles and reviews for USA Today and other publications. He has been the subject of interviews in NPR's All Things Considered along with features in The New York Times, LA Times, Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun Times, Richmond Times Dispatch, USA Today, People, Channel 11, NBC, WBEZ, WGN. His next book ONEUP will be out Spring 2014 with Merit Press. A follow up novel, REAL SANTA, will be out fall of 2014. Hazelgrove runs a political cultural blog, The View From Hemingway's Attic. Visit him at http://www.williamhazelgrove.com.