Pitch: By Will Parkinson.
Now a couple disclaimers – I don’t review a lot of books, mostly because there is an art to doing them, and especially in doing them well, so If I don’t do the book justice, my apologies to Will. I don’t ‘rate’ books with stars or smiles, or kisses or hearts. I just give my opinions. Last, I don’t read a lot of YA – it’s not usually my cuppa – so again, I might not ‘know’ all the trends.
Pitch had it’s initial appeal to me because I love baseball. But my love of baseball doesn’t mean I want to read a book chock full of games, analysis and situations. Will Parkinson does a great job of delving into the sports/jock culture, yet keeping it on the fringe. Jackson Kern is a baseball player, and a good one. He’s also the hot jock. But we don’t get bogged down in baseball games, and situations and innings. We see the game, see the player and we move on. Nicely done. It gives the character some depth, but doesn’t bore the reader.
So without all the baseball ‘stuff’ what’s an author to do? How about let the reader ‘meet’ the characters and see their lives. And that is what Will does. We see the ‘boys’ in all their elements. This isn’t a one dimension, sports only, jock loves nerd story.
The book isn’t perfect, and there are some rough patches that I’ll touch on, but it succeeds on many levels. While there is instant attraction, this to me feels ‘right’. How many of us have seen someone, and been smitten. Then the more we watch and follow, the more our attraction grows. That’s how it felt with Taylor. The author avoids the trap of insta love following the insta attaction. The attraction gets time to simmer and grow into more than just – OMG he’s so hot.
We also get an example of a ‘normal’ gay teen. He’s not gay bashed, or casted out, or ostracized or shunned. He’s gay, it’s out there, he’s not over the top gay and bullied without mercy. It’s a chance to see a well adjusted, well loved, teen who happens to be gay. I think this is going to be the model for future MCs so it was nice that that author gave us that with Taylor. But at the same time, this was no Shangra-lai. Taylor has his issues with being outted that are not glossed over or made light of. In short it’s an attempt to paint a realistic picture of a gay teen whose major angst isn’t surviving the gay bashers, but in dealing with a normal teen issue – love or unrequited love. Kudos for that.
Last there is a nice element of friends. Best friends. Friends you keep no matter how much distance life puts between you. Here again, there was an attempt to make it real. Benny and Taylor were BFFs but like all friends it wasn’t always perfect.
Where the book felt rough was with some of the writing. There was a lot of telling, where I’d have preferred more showing. There was a bit too much explaining. Everything didn’t need to be spelled out and tied up. [A sin I committed all too often, so this is the pot calling the kettle black] And some of the resolutions to issues seemed too quick. A bit more tension would have added to the story.
But over all, the story had all the elements of a good read, likable leads, good friends, interesting situations and of course a HEA that didn’t come easy.