It’s 1989, and in San Francisco, everyone’s attention is focused on the World Series, where the Oakland A’s and San Francisco Giants are meeting for the first time. However, another event of epic proportion is about to rock everyone’s world, literally.
Jake Milkovsky, a 13-year-old white boy, loves baseball, but the very unusual rock he recently discovered is taking up more of his interest. On his quest to identify it, he makes friends with an older girl, learns a lot about geology, and faces terror when a giant earthquake strikes the Bay Area. All of this should combine for a terrifically engaging story. Unfortunately, it’s a swing and a miss. While the author is clearly eager to share a passion for science with young readers, there is little here to compel interest from those not already science-obsessed. The narrative reads like a textbook masquerading as story. Dialogue has a nostalgic feel, and it constantly veers into unnatural science lessons. Further, the portrayal of diverse side characters leaves much to be desired. The Latinx cultural identity of Jake’s best friend, Tony Trejos, is reduced to one (incorrectly accented) utterance of “¡Que loco!”; Japanese-American science teacher Mr. Hierbayashi is called Mr. H because “none of the kids even tried to pronounce his name,” but “he didn’t seem to mind”; and when amateur geologist Melody, a white girl, merely suggests that Jake share his discovery with professional scientists, Jake throws a fit and she must apologize repeatedly for being “pushy.”
A niche read at best. (teacher’s guide) (Fiction. 9-13)