Friday, June 18, 2010

Heat review


After a steady, steady diet of teen girl fantasy and science-fiction, I really felt that I should stretch myself a bit, and read something outside of my normal comfort zone. I couldn't have chosen better than Heat by Mike Lupica, a baseball story about the challenges that a Cuban-American kid faces as he plays in his local Little League.

Michael Arroyo and his older brother Carlos are feeling the pressure mount as they try to hide the fact that their father has recently died of a heart attack. Michael throws himself into his baseball games with more fervor than ever as a way of blocking out all his troubles at home. As their money dries up, Carlos turns to working with a gang and other shady opportunities to make money. With the opportunity to play for the Little League World Series in Yankee Stadium at stake, the rival team spreads a rumor that Michael is lying about his age. While it is never directly addressed, proof of whether they're in the country legally or not must be behind the drive to see Michael's official papers. When their original story that their father is visiting a sick relative in Miami begins to wear thin, the boys go so far as to hire an actor to play the part of their father as part of their gambit to remain out of foster care. What could be a grim story is saved by the comic relief of Michael's goofball best friend Manny. Michael has a very tentative and innocent romance with a girl named Ellie and the happy ending felt a bit deus ex machina to me, but I think most readers will be pleased to see everything wrapped up in such a satisfactory way.

Lupica is a prolific writer, with many other sports titles under his belt. I'm sure I'll be returning to the rest of his books as soon as I need a sorbet to cleanse my fantasy palate again. Much more sophisticated, with an urban voice, this is a far finer book than most of the Matt Christopher offerings. I would give this to middle-grade readers in a heartbeat.

I blogged this during the 48-Hour Reading Challenge.
I borrowed this book from my public library.


  1. I just found you on the Book Hop. Love your site and the fact that you are a children's librarian. Is your library doing a Summer Reading Program??

  2. Sad to say, I'm an unemployed librarian at the moment. It's a turbulent time in the world of libraries, with budgets being slashed everywhere you look.
    I've been keeping busy moving across the country from L.A. to Atlanta, and I've been booking some gigs as a professional storyteller (which has been awesome, and such a blessing), and keeping busy blogging, of course.
    I don't know of a library that DOESN'T have a Summer Reading Program... for youth librarians, especially in public libraries, it's the highlight of the year!

  3. I found you through the blog hop. I am having a beach bag giveaway package. I hope you stop by and enter.
    Kelly Bookend Diaries

  4. I thought that this book was very touching and told well. I agree, Mike Lupica is a skilled writer, and i enjoy reading his books very much. Have you read any of his other books? Miracle on 39th Street is another good one by him. Great review!



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