Fast Pitch by Nic Stone (9781984893017)
Shenice is the captain of the first girls softball team in the league that is entirely girls of color. There’s a lot of pressure on her to perform and to play the role of captain, inspiring others with her belief that they can not only win that single game, but also win the entire championship. As Shenice and the rest of the team put up with microaggressions and outright racism from other teams and their communities, she finds out the reason that her grandfather left professional baseball. Shenice meets her great-uncle Jack, a man savvy enough to not speak about this in front of her parents, but also elderly enough that getting the full story takes some time and effort. As her grandfather’s history is revealed, Shenice realizes that she might have a chance to clear her grandfather’s name for a crime he didn’t commit, and the reason he was pushed out of baseball entirely. Now she just has to keep focused on both finding the proof and also leading her team to victory. It may be too much for one person to handle!
Stone has created a book that speaks at once to both modern racism and then to systemic racism and its impact on Black people in the past and today. This is done in a personal way, so that readers experience the racism that Shenice and her friends are shown at their games. The clever use of family history will lead readers and the characters to explore the past and how it serves as a lens for what is also happening today.
The characters in this book are particularly well drawn. Shenice herself is determined, passionate and skilled. Uncle Jack is fabulous, funny and sly. Then there is the team, the one that stands by their captain, even getting into some trouble along the way as they all work to solve the mystery together.
Game on! Appropriate for ages 9-12.
Reviewed from e-galley provided by Crown Books for Young Readers.