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NEVER BLAME THE UMPIRE by Gene Fehler

NEVER BLAME THE UMPIRE

by Gene Fehler

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: March 1st, 2010
ISBN: 978-0-310-71941-0
Publisher: Zondervan

The umpire in the title refers to God, as 11-year-old Kate has a summer that starts with a spectacular baseball game–winning hit and ends with the death of her mother from cancer. Title notwithstanding, however, baseball is not the plot priority here; it is Kate’s class in creative writing, where she explores her feelings and her religious questions. Friends, a sympathetic teacher, her father and brother, even her mother all bring their responses and concerns to her to try to ease Kate’s sorrow and pain. While religion, prayer and the Bible figure prominently, it is Kate’s learning to write poetry that best communicates her emotional process to readers: Writing prompts and tips are universal, even though Kate’s experience is not. There is little detail about the kind of cancer her mother suffers from or about its treatment, although there is no short-changing the pain her mother is experiencing. The somewhat heavy-handed metaphor about God-as-umpire works fairly well, but it is the courage and faith of the mother, as well as her love, that is most comforting. (Fiction. 8-12)