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Beanball [NOOK Book]


It's the last inning of a high school baseball game between arch-rivals Oak Grove and Compton. Center fielder Luke "Wizard" Wallace steps up to the plate--and is hit by a beanball, a wild pitch that shatters his skull, destroys the vision in his left eye, and changes his life forever.
   In this riveting novel, the events surrounding this pivotal moment are recounted through free-verse monologues by 28 different voices, including those of Luke and his Oak Grove ...

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It's the last inning of a high school baseball game between arch-rivals Oak Grove and Compton. Center fielder Luke "Wizard" Wallace steps up to the plate--and is hit by a beanball, a wild pitch that shatters his skull, destroys the vision in his left eye, and changes his life forever.
   In this riveting novel, the events surrounding this pivotal moment are recounted through free-verse monologues by 28 different voices, including those of Luke and his Oak Grove teammates; the pitcher, Kyle Dawkins, and other Compton players; the two coaches; Luke's family members and teachers; and Sarah Edgerton, a new classmate who seems more affected by Luke's injury than his girlfriend is.
   With its unusual format, gripping subject matter, and economy of language, Beanball is a thought-provoking, fast-paced read.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Poet and baseball enthusiast Fehler should attract a crowd with his first YA novel, related by 28 narrators in free-verse monologues. When high school star athlete Luke "Wizard" Wallace gets hit in the head by a wild pitch, he falls into a three-day coma, from which he emerges blind in one eye. The author raises the stakes for the other characters, sometimes a little too much: the rival team's pitcher hangs up his uniform (even though he's being scouted by the major leagues), infuriating his unrepentant coach (who ends up blaming Luke: "If he'd just gotten out of the way..../ he ruined our whole damn season"). Luke's selfish semi-girlfriend visits him only once ("When I saw his face.../ I thought I'd barf right there"). What makes this brief novel believable and rewarding are Fehler's clear grasp of the dedicated athlete's mind and his ability to imagine what it feels like to be suddenly and seemingly permanently sidelined. Fehler does an excellent job in pacing his shifts of perspective, and the central story, of Luke's friendships and eventual recovery, comes through with drama and clarity. Ages 12-up. (Feb.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Children's Literature
AGERANGE: Ages 12 up.

Luke "Wizard" Wallace is a personable high school senior gifted in multiple sports. It is baseball season and Luke's school team is competing for the conference championship. Playing their rivals from Compton High School, Luke and his teammates find themselves in a last inning rally situation. At a critical moment in the game, young Luke steps to the plate with victory or defeat resting on his shoulders. The powerhouse Compton pitcher fires a blazing fastball only to have to come up and into Luke's face. The horrific injury that results shapes not only the outcome of the game but also the feelings of all the people who observe Luke's injury. Beanball presents these events, and their aftershocks, in a slim, free verse mode. Using a minimalist style, Fehler swiftly moves from person to person involved in Luke's injury and thereby chronicles the panoply of emotions that a traumatic event can generate. However, while this approach does yield a fast-paced narrative, it also contributes to the book's critical flaw. The swiftness of movement from character to character does not allow for any deep development to occur. One is left with a haze of feelings but no real understanding of the characters evoking them. This result leaves the reader unfulfilled as not enough is known about even the primary characters to really feel much about them. Beanball is a reasonable effort, but it is a novel that skims the surface rather than truly connects readers with the themes at hand. Reviewer: Greg M. Romaneck

In this moving baseball novel in free verse, Luke "Wizard" Wallace, a gifted high school center fielder, gets beaned by a pitch--beaned hard enough to crack his skull and cause the loss of vision in one eye. We learn about this life-changing event from different points of view: not just Luke's, but also his distraught parents, his wise coach, his shallow girlfriend, the kind girl who has a crush on him, his good friends, and the pitcher who beaned him, among others. As in Mel Glenn's novels in poetry, this multifaceted approach successfully conveys the various reactions to Luke's accident, from fear, guilt and anger to a renewed dedication to the team. This swift read will appeal to both reluctant readers and baseball players. As Luke works through what, and who, is really important in his life, his experience might help them imagine how they might cope under similar circumstances. Age Range: Ages 12 to 18. REVIEWER: Paula Rohrlick (Vol. 42, No. 1)
School Library Journal

Gr 5-9- A high school athlete is seriously injured by a wild pitch, and he, his family and friends, teachers, coaches, and eyewitnesses share their reactions and feelings about the incident in free-verse monologues. Luke "Wizard" Wallace is a determined, talented player, and a leader on the field and off. Then, in a game versus their archrivals, he leans into a fastball thrown by Kyle Dawkins and is hit by a pitch that leaves him blind in one eye. This plot-driven, brief novel is a page-turner, though its protagonist and supporting characters are one-dimensional. Most are defined chiefly by their relation to Luke: the sympathetic coach; the "win at all costs" coach; his loyal friends and family. Fehler's straightforward story may appeal to die-hard sports fans, but Scott Johnson's Safe at Second (Philomel, 1999) and Carl Deuker's High Heat (Houghton, 2003), two novels that also deal with sports accidents and their aftermath, offer both compelling story lines and memorable characters.-Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Luke "Wizard" Wallace is a high-school athlete, more than proficient in several sports. It's baseball, though, where he really shines, as a centerfielder who can make impossible catches and as a hitter who comes through in the clutch. In one horrific moment everything changes. He's hit in the face with a pitch and his eye is severely damaged. Fehler employs the voices of Luke, his family, teammates, opposing team members, coaches, friends and more to tell the story of the injury and its aftermath. Told in brief punches of free verse, each view differs in perspective and is influenced by the personality of the narrator. The opposing coach makes excuses for instructing his pitcher to brush Luke back, in spite of many wild pitches. The pitcher who threw the ball is riddled with guilt. Many staunch friends remain and new ones are discovered. The reader gets a clear picture of who these people are and how they perceive Luke. Although some of the characterizations are a bit stereotyped, each voice maintains its individuality, with all the voices combining seamlessly to tell a powerful story. In his debut novel, Fehler succeeds at every level. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher

The story is well paced, quite satisfying, and will appeal to the reluctant reader.
VOYA (Voice of Youth Advocates)

In his debut novel, Fehler succeeds at every level.
Kirkus Reviews

Poet and baseball enthusiast Fehler should attract a crowd with his first YA novel, narrated by 28 narrators in free-verse monlogues. . . . Fehler does an excellent job in pacing his shifts of perspective, and the central story, of Luke's friendships and eventual recovery, comes through with drama and clarity.
Publishers Weekly

The short, terse narrative will attract reluctant readers, and Luke's nightmarish ordeal will keep them turning the pages.
Booklist, ALA

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780547534008
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • Publication date: 2/18/2008
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 319,379
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • File size: 333 KB

Meet the Author

Gene Fehler is a widely-published and anthologized poet whose work has appeared in children's books, poetry collections, and college textbooks. He is also the author of five books, including two adult nonfiction titles about baseball's golden age. He lives in Seneca, South Carolina.
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Read an Excerpt

Luke “Wizard” Wallace, Oak Grove center fielder

A ballfield’s the best medicine I know.
I’ve been sick as a dog since last night.
I had to run out of class third period.
I didn’t even stop to get the teacher’s permission, because I thought I was going to throw up right there at my desk.
Talk about embarrassing!
Luckily, I didn’t.

Anyway, the minute I stepped onto the field this afternoon, I felt a lot better.
Almost normal.

And now this. This is what I live for: bottom of the seventh, our last at-bats.
Tying run on third, winning run on second.
Hitting against Kyle Dawkins, the hardest thrower in our conference.
He’s a senior now. He’s fast but wild.
Last year as a sophomore, I swung against him, and I couldn’t touch his heat.
I might as well have been batting with a toothpick.

The Compton coach just came out to talk to Dawkins.
I can guess what he told him.
They don’t want to risk walking me.
Dawkins’s control is shaky; the last thing they want is to have the bases loaded. I’ve already pulled an inside pitch for a double, so the smart play is for him to curve me outside.
I’ll be ready for it.
I’ll poke it to right, and the game will be ours.
Last week we won a game with defense in the final inning.
Today we’ve got a chance to win with our bats.

Andy Keller, Oak Grove backup infielder

The Wizard’s the guy you want up in a situation like this.
Gordie’s on deck. He’s our best hitter, both for average and power.
But in a clutch situation, Luke’s the guy I want up there.

He’s amazing.
For some reason—I can’t explain it— the pressure never seems to bother him.

You might think I’m biased, since Luke’s my best friend.
But I could fill a book with all the times he’s come through in the clutch.
In fact, I can hardly remember a time he’s failed.

Sure, Dawkins might get him out; he’s got the stuff to do it.
But if I were going to bet, I’d put my money on the Wizard.
Red Bradington, Compton coach

This is one hell of a situation to be in.
Their best hitter’s on deck, so we can’t walk Wallace.
Wallace has already hammered Dawkins’s fastball, so the best bet is to bust him inside one time.
That’ll move him off the plate.
Then we’ll curve him away.

Dawkins’s wildness doesn’t give us much margin for error.
I wish I could bring somebody else in, but he’s still the best I’ve got.

Pete Preston, Compton catcher

Coach just told Kyle to brush Wallace back.
You kidding me?
Kyle’s already walked two this inning.
We can’t afford another walk.
Coach wants us to waste a pitch?
He’s an idiot.
But we’re still ahead 3-2, in spite of him.

I just hope Kyle has enough sense to ignore anything Bradington says.
I’m going to give him a target in the middle of the plate.
I hope he tries to hit it. Even right down the gut, Kyle’s got good enough stuff to get anybody out.
Even Wallace.

Tim Burchard, umpire

It’s the worst sound I’ve ever heard in all my years of umping. Oh, I’ve heard plenty of pitches hit a helmet. But this . . . this fastball, up and in.
This one hit bone, right in the face.
Not even a scream or grunt from the kid.
He went down like he was shot.

I know him.
I’ve umped and reffed maybe a dozen of his games.
Not just baseball— football and basketball, too.
The kid’s a great athlete, a natural.
That’s why it was such a shock to see him go down like that.

The screams come from everywhere: bleachers, dugouts, infield, mound.
Even from me.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 20, 2009

    Even though you knew what was coming it still amazed me.

    My daughter had this book on her summer reading list. I read it ahead of time so we could discuss it. I loved this book and so did my 13 year old. It's a parents worst fear when their kids play sports. But the perseverance of the main character was amazing. I loved the dynamics of the supporting cast as well. It's definitely worth reading.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 26, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger aka "Readingjunky" for

    BEANBALL by Gene Fehler will not be gathering any dust on library or classroom shelves. As soon as the first sports fan has read it, the line of readers will be forming right out the door. <BR/><BR/>Luke Wallace is known as "Wizard." Star baseball, football, and basketball player by his junior year in high school, he already has college and pro scouts showing up at his games. But if any scouts showed up at the game against Oak Grove's rival school Compton, they probably left shaking their heads. <BR/><BR/>Compton's top-notch pitcher, instructed to throw an inside pitch, loses control and hits Luke right in the face. He goes down, as the umpire describes, "like he was shot." The players, the fans, his parents, and friends are stunned. The ambulance arrives and transports Luke to the ICU at the local hospital. <BR/><BR/>Now, instead of facing a brilliant sports career, Luke is facing several surgeries and a prolonged recovery. Knowledge that he has lost the sight in his left eye has Luke fighting to find a reason to get better and get on with his life. The tragedy of Luke's accident is felt throughout his community. <BR/><BR/>BEANBALL is written in verse with a wide cast of characters telling Luke's story from a variety of view points. Although I assigned a grade-level of 9+, this could easily be an acceptable read for 7th- and 8th-graders, as well. Reluctant readers with an interest in sports will be wanting more when they finish BEANBALL.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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