Tuesday, July 25, 2006
Heat - by Mike Lupica
I've read several books that I haven't had a chance to review yet so let's start with Heat by Mike Lupica.
Michael Arroyo is the star of his Little League team; in fact, he's such a good pitcher that as his South Bronx All-stars team advances toward the playoffs to qualify for the Little League World Finals in Williamsport, Virginia, some of the coaches file a protest stating that they do not believe Michael is only twelve-years-old. Michemigratedated from Cuba with his father and older brother and they don't have his birth certificate. Michael truly is twelve-years-old, but he's keeping another secret that makes it difficult to defend himself. Meanwhile, a mysterious girl keeps showing up to watch him play and the more he sees her, the more he wants to know about her.
As you all know, I'm not much of a sports fan. One of the sports that I find particularly boring is baseball, but I was riveted by the baseball scenes in this book because characters were so well created that I really cared about what happened. All the dialogue between Michael and his friends seems realistic and added depth to the story.
This is a great book to share with all the current debates about immigration into the U.S. I love that Michael is a fairly regular kid (besides his incredible talent on the field) that readers will relate to because there are plenty of kids out there who were born and raised in the U.S. that don't understand how similar they are to kids who didn't grow up in the U.S.
I also really appreciate that this is a story of a totally normal kid whose family has never been involved in anything bad and ends up involved with social services and could possibly end up in foster care. There is such a negative stimga about families who need social services and kids who end up in foster care, and we need more books like this so kids like Michael have a chance to see someone like themselves in literature and other kids can learn to overcome some negative assumptions they might otherwise make.
I'm sure baseball fans will adore this book, but even the non-baseball fans will really enjoy it.