When his family moves from Pakistan to America, a Muslim boy who loves cricket faces a year of adjustment and life without his father.
Just before his 10th birthday, Bilal moves from Karachi to Virginia with his mother and younger siblings to live with extended family until his father, Baba, can join them. When his cousin enrolls him in summer baseball camp because baseball’s “America’s version of cricket,” Bilal’s days are filled with endless “sames and differents.” A champion cricket player in Karachi, Bilal knows he’s the worst baseball player on a team where the best player’s a girl named Jordan. As the year passes, Bilal improves at baseball, completes ESL classes, and gradually assimilates into school while desperately waiting for Baba. When Bilal learns Jordan’s father’s deployed to Afghanistan, they bond, despite resentment from male teammates. In a thoughtful, honest narration, Bilal describes his confusion over English words and American customs, fears of rejection, emerging friendships, growing prowess as a pitcher, acceptance by team members, and constant longing for Baba. As she did in Flying the Dragon (2012), Lorenzi sympathetically captures the challenges of cultural relocation.
A warm, sensitive, realistic portrait of a Muslim boy adjusting to contemporary America. (Fiction. 9-12)