However you approach this book, it's one that you will get lost in. It's a book that might help the right reader. It's a book that tells us how someone might heal. It's a book that helps us understand. It's a book that I would have loved as a kid. It's a book I loved as an adult. It's a book I can't wait to pass on to readers today.
The Distance to Home
by Jenn Bishop
published by Alfred A. Knopf
June 28, 2016
Last summer, Quinnen was the star pitcher of her baseball team, the Panthers. They’re headed for the championship, and her loudest supporter at every game was her best friend and older sister, Haley.
This summer, everything is different. Haley’s death, at the end of last summer, has left Quinnen and her parents reeling. Without Haley in the stands, Quinnen doesn’t want to play baseball. It seems like nothing can fill the Haley-sized hole in her world. The one glimmer of happiness comes from the Bandits, the local minor-league baseball team. For the first time, Quinnen and her family are hosting one of the players for the season. Without Haley, Quinnen’s not sure it will be any fun, but soon she befriends a few players. With their help, can she make peace with the past and return to the pitcher’s mound?
As a teacher, I can find great things about this story:
* I loved the alternating chapters. Often we see alternating chapters told in different voices so we get different perspectives. This time each chapter is told in an alternating period of time - one the summer before the accident, one the summer after. The voice of Quinnen is remarkably different and I love seeing the story and character development through the writing and organization.
* This story has a great middle grade feel. When dealing with a heavy subject, I find some middle grade stories go so deep into the development of the "event", that it loses an authentic kid voice. This audience of this book is a middle grade reader - keep it real!
* I love how baseball is infused into the story. Quinnen's passion is for sports, particularly baseball. We see Quinnen's world gets rocked by this horrible accident and her world falls apart. I love that baseball is a piece that helps her bring it back together.
* The characters in the story are very real. Each one adds a piece to the storyline. They are flawed characters but they each own up to it and help Quinnen change and grow. This would be a great book to study the development of Quinnen's character and how her relationships with the secondary characters shape that development.
As a reader, I can tell you:
* actually, I've told you enough. I'm going to leave you with the advice to make sure this is on your summer TBR list. Enjoy it, then enjoy getting it in the hands of readers this fall.