Saturday, October 27, 2012
Amazon Children's Publishing, 2012
Source: Received an ARC through Amazon Vine in exchange for an honest review.
I didn't know much about this book going into it other than that it involved baseball and a young boy intent on losing weight. That sounded like it could be a cute fun contemporary middle-grade title. And for the most part it was. The beginning is actually shockingly serious when it lays out Bennett's mother's death from cancer and then jumps into his father's stroke which kicks into motion the main plot. Part of the stroke may have been due to their poor diets that led to an obese figure. When Bennett ends up living with his health-freak aunt, his diet changes dramatically and he is encouraged to pursue physical activity including taking up cross-country.
That's the core of the book: Bennett rejecting the label of "Fat Boy" and not being afraid of making a change. I've read a couple of other books featuring main characters confronting their weight (pre-blog I believe) and I was pleased to see this one deal with it so realistically as well as optimistically. Bennett really struggles at first but he does start to see results by the end and he makes huge strides in improving his movement. He relapses some and he has many times of discouragement but he keeps pushing through, making this an inspirational book for younger readers.
The problem for me was that it all seemed very familiar. Thus while I rooted for Bennett and his family, I wasn't blown away or fully absorbed in his journey. I enjoyed it while I read it but I won't be rereading it.