Review: Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip by Jordan Sonnenblick

Sometimes, the greatest comebacks take place far away from the ball field.

Meet Peter Friedman, high school freshman. Talented photographer. Former baseball star. When a freakish injury ends his pitching career, Peter has some major things to figure out. Is there life after sports? Why has his grandfather suddenly given him thousands of dollars worth of camera equipment? And is it his imagination, or is the super-hot star of the girls’ swim team flirting with him, right in front of the amazing new girl in his photography class? In his new novel, teen author Jordan Sonnenblick performs his usual miraculous feat: exploring deep themes of friendship, romance, family, and tragedy, while still managing to be hilariously funny.

(Description from Goodreads)

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

This is the first book I’ve reviewed that had a guy narrator; it was a breath of fresh air to read a different perspective and the thoughts of a male as opposed to all the female narrators that have been in the past books I’ve reviewed. I decided on this book based on the description (the cover was an interesting concept, but I was drawn in by the description.) The description made me think of my boyfriend some, at least in the sense of the protagonist being a talented photographer at an early age (my boyfriend also played baseball in high school, but photography was his thing.)

The book begins after Pete’s 8th grade year during the summer before he enters high school. He and his best friend, AJ, are both exceptional baseball players (and basketball players, but more so baseball) and are quite the dynamic duo when they play together. The author does a great job at not only conveying true teenage boy characteristics and actions, but he also builds believable and authentic relationships between the characters. Pete and AJ have that close-knit friendship that began early on in both of their lives. Pete and Grampa (his professional photographer grandfather) have such a believable family-tie that Pete states Grampa is his “favorite person.” As the story progresses, Pete and Angelika (the only other freshman in his advanced photography class) have such a sweet, budding high school romance, but aren’t over the top with their affections for one another; in fact, they even discuss (okay, maybe it’s a bit of a fight) hard, real life situations that makes their relationship even more authentic. Pete’s parents weren’t exactly present, but due to certain situations within the story (like how the story mostly took place during the school day or directly after it), it’s understandable that there were not major characters.

Pete had to deal with a lot of tough, real life problems that teenagers may have to face and may have a hard time doing so. In the very beginning of the book, Pete blows out his left elbow (his dominant arm) and is told he will NEVER pitch again. After having talked about constantly with AJ about how the two of them would take over the high school baseball team, this was devastating to Pete. Not only that, but Pete also had to deal with his Grampa’s declining health (later discovered to be caused by Alzheimer’s Disease.) This type of situation is difficult for anyone, especially a young adult. The author does a great job at portraying true emotions evoked by Pete to go along with all of these scenarios; Pete is an extremely realistic and an easy to relate to character because of how he deals with what life throws at him.

Though not every high school freshman is going to become popular, or even well known, Pete’s rise to fame brings out that ever present hope that all high school students have during their time in such a confusing place. Pete may become a star through his photography, but he still had to deal with rebuilding who he was into someone new. Not only that, but he had to deal with the uncertainty that is always looming over a high school student, whether it was about his sports career, his family situation, his school life, or even his relationships. This book does a great job at portraying all of these aspects that tend to become lost in translation when authors write about high school and young adults.

I wish this book had been a lot longer (according to goodreads.com it was 285 pages, but since I read it on my NOOK it was only 160.) I felt there could have been a lot more put into the story, even if more descriptions were added or the plotline was drawn out more; I just felt like the story was short lived and rushed quite a bit. The beginning did a wonderful job with the plot; nothing felt rushed, but at the same time it didn’t drag out. The middle of the story did a great job too, though that’s when it began to speed up almost too fast. However, by the end of the book, I couldn’t quite tell how much time had passed nor could I truly get a feel for what exactly was happening with a few parts of the plot. Either way, it still was a good story, it just needed a lot more to it.

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