Over the Wall

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Tyler's temper is out of control. If he isn't careful, he'll blow his chances of making the All-Star team and being noticed by a scout. But Tyler's coach, a Vietnam War veteran, has seen anger destroy enough people. He knows that if Tyler is ever going to fulfill his dreams, he'll have to learn to fight his battles with his glove, his bat, and his love for the game. Not with his fists. But it all comes down to Tyler. Does he care enough about his future to work through the past?...
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Tyler's temper is out of control. If he isn't careful, he'll blow his chances of making the All-Star team and being noticed by a scout. But Tyler's coach, a Vietnam War veteran, has seen anger destroy enough people. He knows that if Tyler is ever going to fulfill his dreams, he'll have to learn to fight his battles with his glove, his bat, and his love for the game. Not with his fists. But it all comes down to Tyler. Does he care enough about his future to work through the past?

Thirteen-year-old Tyler, who has trouble controlling his anger, spends an important summer with his cousins in New York City, playing baseball and sorting out how he feels about violence, war, and in particular the Vietnamese conflict that took his grandfather's life.

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Editorial Reviews

ALAN Review
A grand slam.
Publishers Weekly
"The author tackles tough subjects relating to violence in sports, religious hypocrisy and the Vietnam War while creating layers of metaphors that neatly unfold as the story progresses," said PW. Ages 10-up. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ritter Choosing Up Sides again draws parallels between baseball and social issues as he explores the struggles of a 13-year-old boy on and off the field. There are many "walls" in Tyler's life: the outfield wall he dreams of clearing with a hard hit; the Vietnam monument bearing the name of his grandfather; and the invisible barrier Tyler's father has built around himself since the accidental death of Tyler's older sister nine years earlier. Spending the summer in New York City with his cousins, Tyler is determined to make an all-star baseball team. But Tyler's talent doesn't impress his coaches as much as his explosive temper does, and he is told to "shape up or ship out." Led by a tough but sensitive coach, a Vietnam vet, and by his pretty eighth-grader cousin, trained in "peer arbitration" at her private school, Tyler learns to control his anger and understand his so-called enemies. The author tackles tough subjects relating to violence in sports, religious hypocrisy and the Vietnam War while creating layers of metaphors that neatly unfold as the story progresses. Although Ritter stacks the deck a little obviously, his powerful lesson in compassion will likely reverberate for readers. Ages 10-up. May Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.
To quote from the review of the hardcover in KLIATT, September 2000: It wasn't until I got far into this book that I went back and really looked at the cover and realized the wall in back of the picture of the baseball player is The Wall—The Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C. And thinking more about this title, I know it has several meanings, only one of which has anything to do with hitting home runs. And thinking some more, I know that this is a profound book, unusual for YA fiction. At one level, this is a book about sports and about a boy trying to control his temper—anger management, as the psychologists call it. It's a successful story if that is all the reader finds in it. Here are a few other themes: fathers and sons; art and political expression; healing; compassion; pacifism. Ritter lets the story and his characters rule: the ideas are there, but he is careful not to overwhelm his readers with moral lessons. Tyler is the main character. He is visiting his aunt and her family in New York City, playing baseball in a summer league, hoping to get chosen for the All-Star team. His inability to control his rage on the field may ruin all this. His attempts to control his anger lead him to question how other people deal with anger, how society in fact sanctions anger. His coach, who is a veteran of the Vietnam War, talks to him frankly about his struggle to control his own hatred. Tyler gets some family history of just how his own father as an adolescent dealt with grief and rage when his father (Tyler's grandfather) was killed in the war in Vietnam. A trip to D.C. and to the Wall with his aunt and cousins stimulates Tyler's own inquiries into the war and the civil protestsin America in those years. Ritter puts all this together in a suspenseful story with more than one climactic scene. I'm glad the book is more than 300 pages long because every part of it seems necessary to tell the story well. KLIATT Codes: JS*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students. 2000, Penguin, Puffin, 312p.,
— Claire Rosser
Children's Literature
Tyler, a 13-year-old baseball player from San Diego, must deal with some very adult issues. His father accidentally ran over his sister and killed her when Tyler was young. When Tyler's relatives from New York ask him to come and spend the summer to play baseball there, he does not hesitate. While in New York, he becomes aware of his intense anger spurred by his fear of not being accepted. With the help of Coach Trioli, a Vietnam veteran, and his grandfather's war record in Vietnam, Tyler confronts his anger and learns how to show love to all people, including his enemies. Ritter's book gives great insight into the mind of an adolescent boy as he tries to gain the acceptance of older boys. Anger as a destructive force is a major theme in this book, and it is an obstacle that many adolescents struggle to overcome. While most adolescents consider gaining acceptance important, anger and rage make acceptance difficult to obtain. This book does an outstanding job of portraying the feelings of American society during the Vietnam War. Ritter offers insight into American turbulence during the Vietnam struggle. 2002, Puffin Books/Penguin, Ages 12 up.
—Steve Scheid
Children's Literature
At first glance, this is a fairly typical sports book about a young teenaged boy's obsession with making an All Stars baseball team. It emerges as a well-written book about personal exploration and family dynamics with a side-trip into the history of America's most unpopular war. Tyler Warner is a talented ballplayer, but a self-described "loose cannon" whose explosive temper causes injury to another player. Forced by his coach to keep his emotions in check or be bounced from the team, Tyler redirects his energy into a latent talent for art and an obsession with the Vietnam War, a conflict that split his own family when his grandfather was killed in combat. Drawing comparisons to the Civil War, Tyler discovers the relativeness of being right and dying for a worthy cause. With war memorials in New York and Washington, D.C. serving as the backdrop, and inspired by the famous Pulitzer photo of a napalmed Vietnamese child, Tyler awakens to the fact that war kills people on both sides of the conflict and that--to coin a sixties phrase--war is not healthy for children and other living things. Ritter's characters do not talk like young people in their early teens. Conversations between Tyler and his cousin, Breena, are a bit too mature and analytical for people of their age. However, the emotional conflict and confusion that the cousins experience, especially regarding their attraction to each other, are valid. With Breena's assistance, Tyler discovers his deeper personal resources and grows in empathy, and these are valuable lessons for people of any age. 2000, Philomel Books, Ages 12 to 16, $17.99. Reviewer: Lois Rubin Gross
Ritter packs a lot into this novelbaseball, the Vietnam War and its aftermath, anger, guilt, atonement, and first love. The mixture works, though, because he never loses sight of his characters, especially the protagonist, Tyler. When Tyler travels from California to play city league baseball in New York City, he comes prepared to impress everyone with his allstar caliber skills. Instead his hotheadedness gets him kicked off the team. His coach tells him to prove that he can curb his anger and conduct himself with dignity. Some of Tyler's anger focuses on his father, who accidentally killed Tyler's sister nine years earlier. He has been waiting all this time for his father to "snap out of it" and act like a regular dad again. Tyler learns to let go of his anger and forgive his father through a combination of visiting the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall and reading more about the war. By talking with his cousin, a peer counselor, and his coach, a Vietnam veteran, he begins to heal. Although Tyler and his cousin sometimes seem a little advanced for thirteenyear-old boys, they still act like real kids. The story occasionally drifts toward didacticism and sentimentality, but Ritter avoids this direction largely because the characters themselves refuse to succumb to them. The descriptions of the baseball games are satisfying, although most of the book's focus lies in its treatment of the ways the Vietnam War affected and continues to affect those involved in it on both sides. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P M J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2000, Philomel, Ages 12 to15,320p, $17.99. Reviewer: Karen Herc
From The Critics
While Tyler and his dad both love baseball, Tyler finds his father more and more withdrawn because of a tragic accident that resulted in the death of Tyler's little sister. So, when Tyler receives an invitation to spend the summer in New York City playing baseball with his cousin Louie, he doesn't hesitate. Tyler's plan is to make the All-Stars, but his explosive temper gets in his way. Tyler continues to get into fights until he is in danger of being kicked off the team. Still, Tyler's coach does not give up on him. Coach Trioli's own experiences as a soldier facing combat in Vietnam remind him that Tyler will never achieve his dreams if he doesn't gain the inner peace needed to walk away from a fight. Author Ritter interweaves Trioli's life inside the Vietnam War with Tyler's love for baseball into a poignant and accessible coming-of-age-story for young readers. This will be particularly appealing to middle school boys. Genre: Baseball/Vietnam War 2000, Philomel, 312p
School Library Journal
Gr 6-9-The wall in the title partly refers to the wall that the book's narrator, 13-year-old Tyler Waltern, wants to smack a baseball over. It also refers to other walls, such as the Vietnam Veteran's Memorial in Washington, DC, and other more illusive barriers between people. As the novel opens, Tyler finds himself spending the summer with his aunt, uncle, and cousins. The attraction of New York City is the chance to play serious baseball over the summer while also escaping from his moody, troubled father, who has been a virtual recluse since the accidental death of Tyler's sister nine years earlier. The boy's own worst enemy, on the playing field and in life, is his own explosive temper and combative disposition. Helping Tyler through his problems are his firm but understanding coach and his wise-beyond-her-years younger cousin. This is a complex novel, with the events of the past haunting the lives of several of the major characters. By the end, Tyler has gained a level of self-awareness by unraveling some of the tangled stories in his family's past and understanding the intricacies lying beneath the surface of life. Sports are just a part of this ambitious work that presents a compelling, multilayered story.-Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.|
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780788745706
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/7/2002
  • Format: Other
  • Edition description: Unabridged
  • Age range: 11 - 14 Years

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 4 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 9, 2007

    upand going

    great book with unexpected things on every page and keeps you on your feet. It all happens for his need to be on all stars and his feelings for his sisters death.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 4, 2006

    Kewl book for baseball

    Over the Wall By: John H Ritter Reviewed by: Alex Rosenblatt All stars. That is all Tyler thinks about. It is Tyler¿s dream to play major league baseball. The only way he can do that is by being noticed in the all star game. But every time he almost made it POW, he is in a fight. John H. Ritter comes through again with Over the Wall, author of award winning book Choosing up Sides. Tyler can not be seen in a fight in the all star game. It all comes down to Tyler. Tyler is athletic, caring, and kind but when he gets a bad call you never know what going you happen next. Tyler just traveled to NYC from California to play baseball with his cousins. Tyler is afraid of what people think so he always tries to be tough and fight someone. He can only make all stars if he shows his coach that he has all stars material and if he can change his fighting ways. The only thing he ever hears before games are play well and stay calm. This story is unpredictable. You never know what will happen next. The book includes real life situations like arguments and peer pressure. The words are easy for teenagers because kids talk the same as real teenagers talk. They use words like ¿yo¿, ¿what up¿, and ¿homie¿ to sho slang. John H. Ritter is very descriptive. He uses a lot of play by play scenes for the baseball games and describes how sliding or catching a certain ball hit to you feels on your hand. Over the Wall is a good book for people 11 and older. You should know there are teenager situations and jokes. You will learn that fighting is bad and successful ways to treat your enemies.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 26, 2002

    This book is awesome

    This book is awesome. This is one of the 8th grade SAGE summer reading books and it is good. It teaches you how he sloved his problems and other stuff. This book is just great.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2010

    No text was provided for this review.

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