Review: Fast Pitch by J Creighton Brown & Tim Martin

fast pitch coverAround this time last year, I blogged about the notion of people refusing to read certain books because of the topic (or even whether they were written by women). I decided to challenge the prejudice of the idea, tried to read a book about football and found that I really didn’t like that one book.  Still, I reasoned there must be other sports books I’d like.

Well, Fast Pitch is it. It was sent to me for review by Cedar Grove Publishing. It’s about TJ Zanotti, an African American girl who is a mad keen baseball player with dreams of joining the major leagues, like her brother Bobby, once she’s finished school. She certainly has the talent for it.

Unfortunately, the coach of the high school Varsity team she tries out for cuts her because of her gender. Although TJ despises softball as a sissy game, she ends up trying for the team in a pact with her brother, who’s been injured on the field.

It’s a challenge for TJ, who has talent but the wrong attitude. She has to learn how to adjust her game to do well in softball, but also to change the way she thinks about the game, her teammates and her future.

In a way, her change of attitude reflects mine about reading sports books – she has to put aside prejudices and open her thinking to get the benefits. After a shaky start, TJ slowly comes to grips with it all, and through some hard setbacks and some grim life lessons, she discovers that her talent matched with a team attitude and new friendships changes her world.

Fast Pitch is tightly written and flows very easily. Occasional third-person breaks from TJ’s narration fill out some details, and there’s a sweet but low-key high school romance thread to the story as well. But mostly it’s TJ, who has smarts and sass and confidence to spare, but a streak of arrogance and bad attitude to what she initially considers a lesser sport and waste of her time to grow out of.

Some of the more detailed passages on softball and baseball scores and gameplay passed me by, but I’m used to skimming over similar passages in PG Wodehouse’s golfing stories. In any case, they are written smoothly and with great pace, so I was carried along on the energy – and the paragraphs that described how TJ and her teammates reacted, physically and emotionally, made sense of those brief bursts of text.

Fast Pitch is fun, dynamic and full of verve. Many of the characters are more archetypal than deep and the plot is fairly straightforward, but the whole makes for a fast-paced, emotionally satisfying and thoroughly engaging read.

If you have a young sportslover in your house, they’d enjoy Fast Pitch. If they’re not sporty but would like something with energy and a good central idea that there may be more to life than we imagine, if you can open yourself to the possibilities, this might also be a good book for them. Or you.

Buy Fast Pitch