Monday, December 8, 2014

Review of "The Art of Fielding"

After hearing many good things about this book and reading many positive reviews, I decided to give this one a try, even though it has been three years since it was released.  Without giving away my take on it, here is my review of the best selling book "The Art of Fielding."

“The Art of Fielding” by Chad Harbach, narrated by Holter Graham

Baseball, fiction, young adult

Publish date:
September 7, 2011

516 pages

2 1/2 of 5 stars (okay)

Henry Skrimshander is a shortstop for tiny Westish College in Wisconsin and seems destined for a major league contract.  He is a whiz with the glove and got to Westish by being unofficially recruited by the team’s captain Mike Schwartz. Schwartz becomes Henry’s mentor during the time at Westish. There are three other important characters in this novel by Chad Harbach.  Owen Dunne, Henry’s roommate, who is gay and becomes involved with a dangerous affair after being hit by a ball thrown by Henry.  The college president, Guert Affenlight and his daughter Pella also are main characters in the story of Henry’s ambition and creeping self-doubt after the poor throw that struck his roommate.

The story itself seemed to go off course because there were so many different directions that I couldn’t figure out what was the proper course.  I was interested in this book because of the baseball theme and I always love a good baseball story.  After a while, even though the main male characters are part of a college baseball team and the story has good baseball scenes, I felt disappointed with the direction of the story.  I felt that all the side issues took away from the main interest for any baseball fan – what is going to happen to Henry and his major league contract?

That question along with others does get answered – but the book fell short of my expectations.  I had a hard time connecting with any of the other characters.  While there are some issues to be expected for a story with college students, such as self-realization, sex and what does the future hold, overall I expected something else.  For those looking for a good story of self-reflection, this does the trick. Also, the main question I had for the end of the story was answered, so I won’t totally knock the book.  But it fell far short of my expectations and therefore was a disappointment for me.

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
I thought it dragged in many areas and probably could have been at least 100 pages shorter and still got the messages across that it meant to portray.

Do I recommend? 
Not if the reader wants to enjoy a true baseball story, but if the reader is looking for a coming-of-age story about college students, this might be one to read.

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