Saturday, April 8, 2017

A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY by Ellen Emerson White | Review

Publisher: Greenwillow Books (An imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)
Publish Date: February 14th 2017
Page Amount: 432 Pages
Price: $17.99 Hardback
ISBN: 0062463217 (ISBN13: 9780062463210)

When eighteen-year-old Jill Cafferty makes history as the first woman to be signed by a major league team, she goes head-to-head against coaches, players, and fans who are determined to keep baseball an all-male sport. The first step? Proving she’s talented enough to be there. An engrossing story about defying conventions and living up to impossible expectations, for fans of John Corey Whaley and Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Jill Cafferty just made history as the first woman signed by an MLB team, joining the Pittsburgh Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate only days after high school graduation. Despite the reassurances of coaches and managers alike, not everyone is happy to have her there. A few of her teammates are giving her trouble, making crude jokes and claiming there’s no way she can play at this level. The media presence following Jill at each of her games adds to her own misgivings about choosing pro baseball over a normal college experience. And to top it all off, Jill is struggling with the responsibilities of being a national hero and a role model for young women everywhere. How can she be a role model when she’s not even sure she made the right choice for herself? Featuring a strong female character trying to mark out a place for herself in a male-dominated world, this literary and accessible book is a great choice for fans of John Corey Whaley and Catherine Gilbert Murdock.

Cover image, synopsis, and other information about the book taken from Goodreads.

Jill Cafferty is making history. At seventeen years old, she’s already found herself being chased after by agents, scouts and recruiters alike, every one of them interested in her /amazing/ pitching skills on her high school’s baseball team. She has plans to go to Stanford in the fall and play baseball there on a scholarship, but this girl finds her aspirations of being a professional baseball player a reality when she’s informed she had been drafted to play for the Pittsburgh Pirates. 

Jill is able to find support in her friends and family, along with her adoring friends that are with her every step of the way. She’s making progress, and starting to achieve her dreams and do something she /really/ loves. Though, as happy she is for the support, the “Oh my gosh, a girl can throw a baseball!” act is getting pretty old from those who don’t understand that yes, a girl can play sports and be good at them too.

Baseball is a male-dominated sport, and for each step forward Jill takes, something sets her back. She already deals with sexist comments and protests at her high school’s game, and these hateful acts only get worse. Not only does the media pound her for her mistakes, but they attribute them to her gender, suggesting that maybe allowing female competitors on some of the best baseball teams might not be a good idea. Jill has to decide whether or not paving the way for other girls is something she can handle, and if it’s worth the weight that is currently pressing down on her shoulders. 

A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY is an absolute home-run.

We follow our main character Jill through one of the most defining moments of her entire life. Jill is in high school, and is still taking the time to discover herself and her heart when she gets a call that could change the course of her entire career. She’s an extremely strong baseball player, whose pitch can really pack a punch, but underneath her ‘baseball’ persona is a teenage girl who is just trying to figure out her aspirations and where she fits in in the world. Personally, I liked to see this side of Jill, and it helped her appear more human to me. Even though the Major Leagues is something she has always wanted, her struggles and thought process are incredibly authentic to a teenage experience, even if being drafted by the Major Leagues isn’t something that every teenager gets to experience. 

Speaking of the narration style, this book was incredibly interesting in the fact that, the majority of the book is told in third person, though Jill’s thoughts are still sprinkled in. Her sass and tone comes through these witty-one liners thrown in after a character says something she doesn’t like, or when someone is being a bit too snappy. The humor and relief weave it’s way into the story without much of a second thought at all. I really liked seeing a change in this narration style because I could still hear Jill’s inner monologue at points even though it wasn’t explicitly being explained to me, and it helped to immerse me into the story and into Jill’s character.

In terms of plot progression, I did think that this book moved slow at some points. The beginning of this book I think is incredibly well-paced, and it sets up who Jill is as a /person/ before she is a /baseball player/, though toward the middle and in some parts of the end it seemed to drag, and the ending itself was slightly disappointing. I was so eager to see Jill progress at a faster rate than she was. 

It also didn’t help that I found some of the chapters bogged down by courses of action that I didn’t quite care to read about. The book itself didn’t focus /largely/ on the baseball games, but when a play-by-play was given, or I read about Jill’s pitching for more than a few pages, it hit a bit of a lull. In terms of the baseball terminology itself, for someone that doesn’t play baseball, I definitely felt that the terms characters used were not only authentic, but adequately explained and defined. (There were a few instances where acronyms and slang were used to describe actions instead, and it did distance me from the story, though only for a few moments.)

Though, the most important aspect of this book was that it brought up loads of important issues that we deal with today. Women are still discriminated against based on their gender, unfair assumptions and stereotypes are woven into the fabric of our society, and people still are not treated with the respect that they deserve. It’s important to realize these things, along with loads of others, and work hard to try and improve and change the world for a better future. 

Ellen Emerson White knocks it out of the park with A SEASON OF DARING GREATLY. Baseball lovers and others alike will find something to enjoy in this book, whether it is because of the baseball itself or the story of a teenage girl fighting for what she wants and deserves. This story is packed with strong and dynamic characters, and tells a story that is like no other. This book is an absolute home-run!

FTC Disclaimer: I received this Advanced Readers Copy in exchange for review consideration. This does not affect my review of the book in any way. All thoughts expressed in this review are honest and are my own.

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