A Season of Daring Greatly by Ellen Emerson White
Jill Cafferty is good at baseball. Not just for a girl—she’s good, period. And when scouts start sniffing around, Jill decides that if she’s drafted before round ten and the team doesn’t just want her for a gimmick but to actually play, she’ll set aside her scholarship to Stanford and do it. Then she’s selected in round three…and everything breaks loose.
I absolutely loved this book.
It’s definitely not for everyone. White’s writing style is, um, interesting, with lots of sentences broken by hyphens and italics. However, I’ve lot her since The Road Home, which is one of my all-time favorite books. I just love her characters: deeply sarcastic and intelligent New England women who just don’t quite fit in yet are very competent at their jobs…and surrounded by men who are dickheads.
And Jill fits this entirely. Does she act like a typical 2019 teen? Eh…no, probably more one that would be better suited for a novel in the 1980s, but still she’s a great character. Driven, multi-talented and yet has focus weakness that is a mile wide, particularly when it comes to certain types of critics. I did like her many, many doubts about going into professional baseball, and her questioning of whether this was the right course for her. Also, I liked that she was so big and tall and heterosexual, defying a stereotype of women athletes (although there is some lesbian—and gay—rep too in the book, just not with Jill) and repping tall, buff girls (mild spoiler: in a much, much healthier way than that godawful movie Tall Girl).
I especially loved her mother, who supported her and yet didn’t give a hoot for baseball at all (e.g., in between Jill actually playing she would grade papers or read a book while sipping wine, because the only thing that mattered was her daughter playing not the game itself).
And I did like the teammates that became her friends, and the support staff that had her back and backed her plays.
And Marcus, who is probably the best catcher and den mother a team could ever ask for. The man might not be the best batter, but he really did look out for his pitchers and teammates, and always knew what was best for them. He was so, so precious.
In between the rounds of harassment and discrimination Jill faces—because this book shies away from none of that—there are moments of hilarity and friendship. I nearly died of the adorableness during The Lego Movie scene, which was just too cute and precious. Of course, Jill goes through hell in finding her place, finding her focus, and doing it at at 18. I’m so happy that despite her maturity, the adults in the room realize how young she is and generally take that into consideration, and know that despite the massive amount of pressure she’s under she’s still a kid and a young ball player with lots of skill.
Anywho, a definite read if you’re looking for a book about women athletes that has no romance (there is mild romantic leanings but nothing happens or comes of it).