Lupica, Mike The Only Game, 310 pgs. Simon and Schuster, 2015. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.
Baseball is the only game. Jack has always been the star of his little league team, and this year, he is destined to go to the World Championships with the other 12-year-olds on his team (they are that good). But after the first practice, Jack announces to his coach, and then to his parents, that he’s quitting the team. Even though he lives for baseball and has waited for this year his whole life, something is making him step back. It’s been almost a year since his older brother was killed, and while his parents don’t understand, they feel it’s important to let Jack make his own decisions, and are supportive. His friends on the other hand feel betrayed. His best friend Gus is the angriest of all. But then when Cassie, the star of the softball team, convinces Jack to help coach the girls, and Jack befriends Teddy, the kid everyone picks on, things start to turn around for Jack. Can some unlikely friends help Jack come to terms with the loss of his brother and a need to play the Only Game?
This book is much more than a baseball story. Full of game play and exciting to the very end, it’s also about friendship, family, and being a team player. Beautifully written with some great twists. Although this is a sports book, the issues will make it appealing to realistic fiction readers as well. Lupica hits a home run. EL MS - ESSENTIAL Lisa librarian