Monday, January 14, 2008

Bat 6, by Virginia Euwer Wolff

I finished this book late last night. I bought it several years ago, I don't know why, other than it's a story about a 6th grade girls softball team. Interestingly enough, it takes place right after the end of WWII (again, maybe why I bought it) and that is the era that Kyra is studying right now. It does not tell for sure whether or not this is a true story, based on a true story, or completely made up. I assume there is some bit of truth to it because the author thanks a whole slew of people at the beginning, including 2 Oregon city softball teams and their coaches. "Bat 6" is the game that happens each year between these 2 teams and this game is the 50th game ever played.

Ms. Wolff tells the story from all the girl's point of view, changing characters on almost each page. Some of the girls have more to say than others and each of them "write" in a different style. They introduce each other, their teams, and some of the odd things that happen in their little towns. Right off the bat you meet the new characters/star players that move into each of the towns. One of the girls is a Japanese-American who is moving back home with her family. They had been gone since the beginning of the war when they were sent to an internment camp. The other girl, Shazam, (in the other town) just moved in with her grandmother since her daddy was killed in the war and her mother could not take care of her. In the beginning, all Shazam writes about is her puka shell necklace from her daddy, and her fire dream. Now right away warning sounds shoot off in my head saying that something bad is going to happen in that game. (especially if I am right about what I suspect happened to Shazam's dad)

The most interesting thing I read, however, was at the very end of the book. The author comments, "Our daily news is filled with children doing horrifying things, and I'm fascinated by the question: What is it we notice about these kids but decide not to acknowledge?" Boy, I think that is a commentary for so many of the bad things that happen in our little world. So many people that are looking for help from anyone, and nobody paying attention. Unfortunately, some of those people seeking help don't scream for it...instead they grab a gun and shoot up a high school or post office. You know who the victim is, and you hate to see some of the plea-bargaining lawyers fight to defend a lunatic that just blew away dozens of people...but what if? What if there were signs that everyone was ignoring, and someone pleading for help before they went crazy? There is so much cruelty in the world, and some of it just causes the rest of it. Can't we all just be nice?!

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