A Curveball Worth Reading

The book heavily centers around photography, and the characters mainly spend their time at school in photography class.

The book heavily centers around photography, and the characters mainly spend their time at school in photography class.

Seth Anderson, Staff Writer

For many years, my English teachers have told me about Jordan Sonnenblick, an author who writes books for teenagers like me, we would have rather been playing video games or reading books about sports. Now in my Freshman year, (the year of annotating,) the only book, that seem interesting to me are, of course, sports book, or so I thought.

Curveball has only one chapter that revolves around a game of baseball; the rest of the book is what life is like after the game. The main character, Peter Friedman, has a grandfather who is a professional photographer and a friend who is a superstar baseball player. He has been playing baseball since he was little, and he is playing in the final game of his middle school career. Little does he know that it would be the end of his entire career, because he ends up tearing his elbow due to overexerting the elbow joint.

Doomed to never play any sport again, Pete decides to take an Intro to Photography class, thinking it will be an easy A. However, in the class, he meets “Tidbits Girl”, Angelika Stone, who manages to somehow get Pete stuck in the senior level photography class, along with herself.

These two are the main focus of the story at first. Pete and Angelika are assigned a project that Pete decides they should finish at his house, where his Grandpa’s camera equipment is set up. The two hit it off, and they start hanging out more and more often. Pete starts confiding in Angelika about his Grandfather’s recent actions, and she reveals a terrible truth:   His grandfather might have Alzheimer’s. While Peter sees all of the signs, his parents refuse to acknowledge the sudden change in behavior.

With a senior level class, a new girl in his life, and a grandfather who is possibly that is going insane, Pete has enough on his plate, but he will have to make room for one more problem, as his best friend AJ is making tons of expectations for the newest baseball season for the pair. Since Pete is essentially one armed, he cannot play baseball anymore, everyone knows, except AJ. And, since he is a hot air balloon and Pete is trying to look out for his friend’s feelings by not telling him.

With so much going on, will Pete would be able to rise up to the challenge and hit a home run? Or will he epically choke, striking out and letting everything go to ruin?

Since I cannot spoil the book, I’ll tell you what I think of the book. It is funny; very funny. The humor fits in with high school students without the everyday conversation that public schools are accustomed too. The amount though is lacking in some areas. So if people excepting a straight up comedy, do not. This is a Realistic Fiction book with romantic comedy elements. The problems Pete faces are all real problems and they are all dealt with in a realistic manner, wisecracks not included. The humor comes from the characters, not the issues.

Now, on to the main characters of the book, Pete is our protagonist and a flawed one at that. He is quiet and shy has a jealousy streak, and can be somewhat dense at times. Thankfully, Stone is there to save him from drowning on land. She might get Pete in trouble at the beginning, but as she and Pete start to get closer and closer, she starts shaping him into a more confident guy, someone who does not need to be jealous over his best friend, because he realizes what he has.

Stone is not without her faults either. She has a severe envy problem over a senior girl named Linnie Vaughn, local sports star, for more reasons than one. But thanks to Pete, she overcomes that wall with ease. These two are truly the stars of the show, because without her, Pete would only have AJ. Speaking of which…

AJ, or Adam James as Angelika calls him, is a baseball nut. He practically breathes the sport. That is, if he ever does. AJ is a huge talker, and Pete is constantly reminded of that when he talks with him. Now AJ does talk a lot, but he doesn’t do it to be rude. He just needs more words than most people. You see, AJ isn’t very bright. Not stupid, just under average intelligence. So while Pete can make As and take photos, all AJ has is his talent. And without Pete to back him up on the field, he loses his confidence bucket. So AJ relies on Pete more than Pete thinks. So when Pete goes down in the last game of the year, AJ thinks’ he’ll be back by spring. Little does he know that he won’t be joined out there every again.

Last but not least is Pete’s Grandfather, owner of Goldberg Photography. He’s gotten so many pictures or so many things, (Lions, tigers, and bears o’ my!) he’s practically a professor on the subject. So when he decides to take Pete on a hike to get a picture of bald eagles at sunrise, it comes as a huge surprise to Pete when his grandfather sees the bird clearly, but doesn’t take the shot. Pete gets worried, and tells his parents, but they brush it off as him not liking the shot. But when he starts missing basic things like driving past his house, putting notes around the house telling him to flush the toilet, and even falling down stairs, Pete starts believing more and more that his grandfather has Alzheimer’s.

So with so much that I’ve gushed over, you’d think this book would be the best thing ever right? Well… I wish, but I do have complaints. The book is short, only 285 pages long. This does rush some moments, especially the romance scenes, little there are. Now I’m not saying I want a steamy scene with anybody, far from it. But Pete and Angelika go back and forth from lovers to spatters so fast, it’s surprising how these two haven’t killed each other yet. Also, AJ gets little character evolution throughout the book to let Pete and Angelika take center stage. He becomes more caring for his friends, but not much else happens. Even A.J’s girlfriend is given around a paragraph or two of build up, then bam! She’s here, and the reader is left wondering what’s going on.

Overall, Curveball is a good story that’s predictable in area’s, has so questionable pacing, and some of the side characters are weak, but if those are the only flaws, a book has done its job well. Overall, I wholeheartedly recommend curveball to any teen readers out there. It’s a fantastic read if you have an hour or two to kill, and the main cast is more than enough to keep you entertained for the entire read.