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Hard Hit

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Overview


As she did in her groundbreaking memoir, Learning to Swim, Turner takes on a tough subject through luminous poetry. The result is a shattering and healing journey through one boy's loss of a parent.

As the pitcher on his HS team, Mark lives and breathes baseball. Sure, there's pressure from his coach and his dad, who both push him hard, but it's nothing that time with his buddy, Eddie, or with his crush, Diane, can't diffuse. But all that changes when Mark's dad is diagnosed ...

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Overview


As she did in her groundbreaking memoir, Learning to Swim, Turner takes on a tough subject through luminous poetry. The result is a shattering and healing journey through one boy's loss of a parent.

As the pitcher on his HS team, Mark lives and breathes baseball. Sure, there's pressure from his coach and his dad, who both push him hard, but it's nothing that time with his buddy, Eddie, or with his crush, Diane, can't diffuse. But all that changes when Mark's dad is diagnosed with cancer, and everything Mark has ever believed in--love, God, and baseball--is called into question.

This profoundly affecting novel in verse traces the physical and emotional journey of a boy in crisis, and all the requisite emotions--anger, denial, fear, bargaining, sadness, & acceptance--that accompany loss.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Kirkus 2/1/06 Starred review
Mark Warren's world is about to be turned upside down by his father's sudden diagnosis of cancer in this novel written in a spare, masterful sequence of poems. The tenth grader, an aspiring star pitcher, still has an innocence and ability to feel, qualities absent from much of contemporary YA fiction. And while the story follows a formulate structure- Mark's got a best frined and falls in love- both these characters support Mark with genuine warmth and affection through the ups and downs of his father's treatment. What keeps this arresting is the kindness and understanding of the characters- not just Mark's friends, but his family, too- and the astonishing minimalist language of each poem that advances the storyline and reveals Mark's attempt to grapple with everything. There isn't a lot of background noise: no sidebar conversations into other character's unhappy or dysfunctional lives; the focus is clearly on Mark, life and death and the exquisitely evoked simple and complex mysteries of the universe. Backmatter includes "National Help Lines" for further information on cancer and organizations to help children with bereavement.

Booklist
\\\\\\\\Turner, Ann. Hard Hit. Feb. 2006. 176p. Scholastic, $16.99 (0-439-29680-3).
Gr. 7–10. Tenth-grader Mark Warren is a golden boy: good friends, a gorgeous girlfriend, and an awesome pitching arm, an arm that his dad has cultivated since Mark was small. Yet all turns gray and meaningless when Mark learns that his father has pancreatic cancer. In a carefully crafted, free-verse narrative, the teen tells of his struggle with faith, hope, and disillusionment as his family watches his father slip away–and the inevitable terror and guilt of those still living. It's a hard, sad, beautifully written, easily accessible book, spare yet with surprisingly well-developed characters. Unlike longer, more complex novels that build layers of emotion through description and events, Turner employs poetry to paint the reality of gradual loss, and the sparse language conveys the absence of all the family has known and its lonely emptiness without its central figure. A short bibliography of resources for children whose parents have died rounds out this special book. –Frances Bradburn

SLJ
Gr 8 Up–As in Learning to Swim (Scholastic, 2000), Turner addresses an intense subject in lyrical poetry. Mike, 16, has the perfect life–star baseball player, cute girlfriend, and loyal best friend–until the phone call that turns his life upside down. His father has pancreatic cancer. While his friends continue to live their lives, time stands still for Mike. His dad suffers through and begins the wasting away that cancer causes. A short period of remission brings a brief period of celebration. In the end, however, Mike finds that his bargains with God and his attempts to get along better with his sister are all for naught. His father dies and he must find a way to go on with his life. Teens who have experienced serious illness and/or death in their family or with close friends will relate to Turner's profound novel that traces the journey of one young man through the stages of grief and recovery. National help lines, addresses, and Web sites are included for readers who need them.–Kathryn Childs, Morris Mid/High School, OK

Kliattt

Death of a beloved family member, in this case a father, is indeed a hard hit, and using the poetry format to tell of the impending death and the family grief is a powerful means of conveying the intensity of feelings. Mark loves his father dearly, and they share an interest in baseball, so Mark tries to continue on the team through his father's illness. The four sections of the novel use baseball terminology to tell of the other, larger story: Wind Up: Strike One!; Extra Innings; Three Strikes! The language is spare but gut-wrenching: “They are starti

KLIATT
Death of a beloved family member, in this case a father, is indeed a hard hit, and using the poetry format to tell of the impending death and the family's grief is a powerful means of conveying the intensity of feelings. Mark loves his father dearly, and they share an interest in baseball, so Mark tries to continue on the team through his father's illness. The four sections of the novel use baseball terminology to tell of the other, larger story: Wind Up; Strike One!; Extra Innings; Three Strikes! The language is spare but gut-wrenching: "They are starting my dad / on the medicine trail / like the Cherokee Trail of Tears / where you stumble / and fall along the hard way." At the end of the story: "One star gleamed / and sparked / like Dad's eyes / it seemed he was there / loving me / his dust his bones his voice / part of a star." The author lists several helpful resources in the final pages of the book: The Dougy Center: the National Center for Grieving Children and Families; The American Cancer Society; and Comfort Zone Camps, the nation's largest bereavement camp for children ages 7--17. Turner has written honestly, and her work is a helpful resource for those trying to understand grief and loss, because she puts words to these feelings. KLIATT Codes: SA--Recommended for senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2006, Scholastic, 167p., Ages 15 to adult.
—Claire Rosser
Children's Literature
Ann Turner turns her significant lyric talents to a free-verse novel and quickly we are engaged by the hero, tenth grader Mark Warren, who seems to have it all. He is the star pitcher for his baseball team, has his first girlfriend, lives in a close family, and even has a "golden dog." His comfortable, happy world collapses when one phone call makes his dad toss out words "like fly balls/tumor-cancer-spread" and his mom's face looks like his "beat-up glove." Turner has an amazing gift for finding words for the inexpressible and helping readers accompany Mark as he attempts to right his shaken world. 2006, Scholastic, Ages 9 up.
—Susie Wilde
VOYA
With the simplicity and brilliance of Learning to Swim (Scholastic, 2000/VOYA December 2000), Turner crafts another slim novel in verse that speaks volumes long after the book is closed. Mark Warren is a tenth grade baseball player, with two parents, an annoying younger sister, a dog, and a few friends. Readers immediately learn that Mark's father is gravely ill with pancreatic cancer. The narrative then starkly fills in the details of their lives. They strive for excellence in sports, spend time together as a family, and Mark likes a girl named Diane at school. Dances, science projects, church, his coach at practice, and ordinary routines such as dinner and taking out the garbage occupy the pages, but the raw emotions of a parental illness propel the tale: "Everything looks the same"; "the medicine trail like the Cherokee Trail of Tears where you stumble and fall along the hard way"; "no luck left"; "I'm back in normal life again"; "seeing the things you love is always a good idea"; "to have him nag me"; and finally, "miss his smell" are examples of these carefully chosen phrases that beautifully illustrate the universal and poignant sense of loss. The Warrens are "hard hit," and their exquisitely drawn experience is highly recommended for all teens, poetry classes, and creative writers. VOYA CODES: 5Q 4P M J S (Hard to imagine it being any better written; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to 12). 2006, Scholastic, 176p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Nancy Zachary
Vicki Sherbert
Mark Warren has a great life. He has a cool best friend. He's the star pitcher on his high school team, thanks in part to the endless hours his father put in as his catcher. The new girl notices him, and thanks to his mother's advice, he is able to carry on an intelligent conversation with her. His younger sister turned 13 and is a pain, but not bad as sisters go. But one lousy phone call, and Mark's world is forever changed. His dad's pancreatic cancer is back. Ann Turner's free-verse poem depicts the tide of emotions that inevitably rages through a family battling cancer. Middle school and high school students will quickly become attached to the characters and will find themselves gripped by this sensitive, well-told story.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-As in Learning to Swim (Scholastic, 2000), Turner addresses an intense subject in lyrical poetry. Mike, 16, has the perfect life-star baseball player, cute girlfriend, and loyal best friend-until the phone call that turns his life upside down. His father has pancreatic cancer. While his friends continue to live their lives, time stands still for Mike. His dad suffers through and begins the wasting away that cancer causes. A short period of remission brings a brief period of celebration. In the end, however, Mike finds that his bargains with God and his attempts to get along better with his sister are all for naught. His father dies and he must find a way to go on with his life. Teens who have experienced serious illness and/or death in their family or with close friends will relate to Turner's profound novel that traces the journey of one young man through the stages of grief and recovery. National help lines, addresses, and Web sites are included for readers who need them.-Kathryn Childs, Morris Mid/High School, OK Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Mark Warren's world is about to be turned upside down by his father's sudden diagnosis of cancer in this novel written in a spare, masterful sequence of poems. The tenth grader, an aspiring star pitcher, still has an innocence and ability to feel, qualities absent from much of contemporary YA fiction. And while the story follows a formulaic structure-Mark's got a best friend and falls in love-both these characters support Mark with genuine warmth and affection through the ups and downs of his father's treatment. What keeps this arresting is the kindness and understanding of the characters-not just Mark's friends, but his family, too-and the astonishing minimalist language of each poem that advances the storyline and reveals Mark's attempt to grapple with everything. There isn't a lot of background noise: no sidebar conversations into other character's unhappy or dysfunctional lives; the focus is clearly on Mark, life and death and the exquisitely evoked simple and complex mysteries of the universe. Backmatter includes "National Help Lines" for further information on cancer and organizations to help children with bereavement. (Fiction. 12+)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439296809
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 504,890
  • Age range: 12 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author


Ann Turner began her writing career as a poet and has subsequently published more than thirty-five critically acclaimed books for young readers, ranging in age from kindergarten through High School. She was born in Northampton, Massachusetts and grew up in Williamsburg, a small, rural town nearby, where she currently lives with her husband and two teenagers. She graduated from Bates College in Maine and studied abroad during her junior year in Oxford, England, also studying at the University of Massachusetts, where she received an M.A.T. in 1968. She taught High School English for one year but decided that she would rather write books than teach them, depending on all the wonderful teachers to help put her books into the hands of children and teenagers.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted May 3, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Reality

    I was crying like a baby towards the middle of this book. It's so real.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 11, 2007

    Hard Hit

    How would u feel if your dad had cancer? Well Mark Warrens dad did have cancer. He was only in the tenth grade when he found out about his dad having cancer. When he found out he ripped the phone out of the wall so he wouldn¿t be able to hear and more bad news. All this happened right in the middle of Marks baseball season. Mark was a very good pitcher and wanted to impress his dad while he was sick. The book I think was a real soul grabber. If u likes an easy to read book, has a person who is a baseball player, and has a major problem then this book is for you. I also think this book could go to both genders because the author is Ann Turner and it is about a boy. So to me the book grabbed me because I am a baseball player and if my dad got cancer I wouldn¿t know what to do with baseball with out him.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2006

    Hard Hit tackles the tough questions

    Ann Turner's novel Hard Hit presents Mark, who has an enviable life as the star pitcher in school, with a new girlfriend, best friend and decent family. When his father is diagnosed with cancer, Mark's world is shattered and everything he takes for granted or believes in is questioned. Hard Hit tackles the tough questions of coping with death and life's changes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 29, 2005

    Free Verse for boys? Really?

    Don't be fooled by the baseball on the cover, this is written in free verse. While this is a valid literary device, 7th and 8th grade boys like plot driven books and one look at this book will turn them away! How about books that draw boys in! We need sports book (!!!!) but not in free verse.

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