Review of Fast Pitch

Fast Pitch
by Nic Stone
Intermediate, Middle School    Crown    192 pp.    g
8/21    978-1-9848-9301-7    $17.99
Library ed.  978-1-9848-9302-4    $20.99
e-book ed.  978-1-9848-9303-1    $10.99

Softball is in Shenice “Lightning” Lockwood’s blood. The twelve-year-old catcher plays for the Fulton Firebirds, the first all-Black team in the league and the only team in the entire eight-state Dixie Youth Softball ­Association with more than three Black players on the roster. “It’s a weight no one your age should have to carry, but can’t ignore,” Shenice’s father tells her. She feels that every win is historic since she is trying to take her team to the ­championships and “live out the dream” of past ­generations of her ­family. This legacy goes all the way back to Great-Grampy JonJon, the family’s “­baseball ­patriarch” who was “almost one of the first Black players recruited to the MLB. But something ­happened.” The mystery of why Great-Grampy JonJon didn’t make it to the majors becomes a parallel narrative to that of Shenice’s softball games. The story effectively incorporates sports action with Shenice’s sleuthing into her family’s past. Stone’s (Clean Getaway, rev. 5/20) straightforward, dialogue-driven prose is powerful, contributing multiple additional voices to Shenice’s first-person perspective as she comes to understand how racism has affected her own family through the generations. This contemporary sports story goes beyond mere genre appeal; it is a novel of substance, carrying the weight of ­history.

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Dean Schneider
Dean Schneider teaches seventh and eighth grades at the Ensworth School in Nashville, Tennessee.

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