Twelve-year-old Peter Lee hopes that baseball might help his grieving mother regain a measure of interest and happiness in life.
The last best day Peter can remember as a family, before his bright, athletic brother was killed in a car accident, was the occasion of Taiwan’s thrilling victory in the Little League World Series. It’s 1972, and his father had been hard on college-age Nelson, whose ideals occasionally clashed with those of his Chinese-born father. But Nelson’s death turns everything upside down. Peter and younger sister Elaine are helpless before their mother’s silence and depression. Peter lets almost everything go, including school and friendships, until he grasps at something he believes he can offer his mother: baseball. When Ba, as Peter calls his father, steps up to coach Peter’s team, Peter learns to his astonishment that not only does his father know the game, but he also has depths of courage and fairness Peter had not realized, even in the face of occasional, casual bigotry. His father offers support to a boy on the team who is bullied at home, and he finds a way to let another talented player stay with the team. The first-person narration is smooth and believable.
This is a fine story of family, loss, growing up and learning to play baseball, raised to a higher level by gracefully incorporated themes of feminism and kindness. (Historical fiction. 9-13)