By: M.E. Gilbert
Publisher: H. Gent Palmo
Publication Date: November 2014
Reviewed by: Deb Fowler
Review Date: March 2, 2015
Texas Blaze was a hot baseball team to be reckoned with and had a tabasco-hot coach to go with it. Coach Manton knew his stuff and didn't hesitate to make it known what he wanted, like ever. Pete Simmons wasn't the only member of the team Manton slammed, but it sure felt like it at times. His dad said that "the best players are ones coaches yell at the most," but when Pete was being reamed out he felt like a total loser. He'd just stumbled onto the Shelton Middle School playing field one day and the next he was a starter. Go figure.
Coach Manton wasn't much for the agony of defeat thing and took it out on anyone and everyone but Richard. His dad was rich. It was the money thing there, but whatever. Being yelled at by Manton was all in a day's work for a Texas Blaze player, or was it? Sometimes it was enough to bring tears to a guy's eyes...literally. Livvie, Louie's twin sister, brought a big time twinkle to Pete's eye so all was good.
Pete's uncle Luke often said to "Keep it surreal," but soon what happened to him was more like Twilight Zone unreal. A knuckleball went right past him. No big deal. It's just a game and it was only a practice one at that. A knee hit him in the chest and there "was that scary sensation of not being able to breathe." Wow, maybe that was just a fluke, but when Louie's head was knocked into the wall of the dugout, it didn't look that way. "Go ahead," Manton sneered at Pete, "What are you going to do?" What was he going to do? Did he have the guts to stand up to defend his best friend or was he going to walk away?
This is an amazing tale about courage, choices, taking the ball and running with it that young readers will definitely relate to. M. E. Gilbert has penned the perfect tale that will keep even the most reluctant reader turning the pages. It's very well-written and everything about the game and the dilemma of "coach abuse" rang true. I could sense how the Texas Blaze team was "living in fear" of what Coach Manton would do next. The ending had a marvelously unexpected twist, something that I didn't see coming. This is only a single tale, but one I wouldn't mind seeing expanded into a series.
Quill says: This is definitely one writer to watch out for!