Playing the Field

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Overview

All Darcy wants is to play on the baseball team, to hear her name announced, "Now batting, Darcy Miller," to play the field. Is that so much to ask? Unfortunately, it might be. In a few short months, Darcy Miller goes from typical senior in high school to candidate for Jerry Springer. Her mom has started dating Darcy's principal, the very principal whose son Darcy happened to have started a huge flirt-fest with, now brought to a screeching halt. When she decides to let her mom go to bat (so to speak) for her to ...
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Overview

All Darcy wants is to play on the baseball team, to hear her name announced, "Now batting, Darcy Miller," to play the field. Is that so much to ask? Unfortunately, it might be. In a few short months, Darcy Miller goes from typical senior in high school to candidate for Jerry Springer. Her mom has started dating Darcy's principal, the very principal whose son Darcy happened to have started a huge flirt-fest with, now brought to a screeching halt. When she decides to let her mom go to bat (so to speak) for her to play on the baseball team, Darcy thinks things are starting to look up. After all, Principal Basset caves and decides to let her play. But he has two conditions that shake up her entire game: She must pretend to be a lesbian (WHAT?) and she must join the GSA, the Gay-Straight Alliance (WHAT? WHAT?), the president of which happens to be her best friend -- make that her ex-best friend, Josh. Okay, Darcy's senior year might seem complicated at first. It's not. It's insurmountably, unforgettably, and -- most of the time -- hilariously complicated.

But if anyone can handle it, it's Darcy. She'll do anything just to play the field.

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Editorial Reviews

Pete Hautman
"Insightful, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny. . . . An inside-out look at high school sports."
National Book Award winner for Godless
VOYA
Darcy Miller loves baseball. More than anything, she wants off her high school's abysmal softball team and onto the almost-champion boy's baseball team. The principal, who is dating her mother, has other ideas, until his son, Darcy's long-time crush, takes matters into his own hands by telling everyone Darcy is a lesbian. Suddenly, "Now batting, the pitcher, Darcy Miller.o Bildner packs his debut novel with gimmicks and little else, and these contrivances muddy whatever he is trying to say about sexuality, teens, and the high school experience. The "pretending to be a lesbian" twist makes little sense except as a way for Darcy to walk a mile in the shoes of her estranged friend, Josh, to experience life as a gay teen. Unfortunately this ploy has no impact because Bildner summarizes the experiences rather than letting readers watch Darcy live them. Darcy is not a sympathetic character and never sounds convincingly like a girl. Brandon, the principal's son, is just a stereotypical cocky jock until he wows the Gay-Straight Alliance with research on the struggles faced by gay teens. Mild cursing and offensive terms for homosexuals are sprinkled gratuitously throughout the book, and other minor problems are just irritating. For example, Darcy's fashionista best friend, Samantha, calls Darcy by her last name, yet the baseball coaches call everyone by their first. Bildner's love of baseball does shine through and is the only thing that could possibly recommend this disappointing novel. VOYA CODES: 1Q 3P M J S (Hard to understand how it got published; Will appeal with pushing; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9; Senior High, defined as grades 10 to12). 2006, Simon & Schuster, 192p., Ages 11 to 18.
—Vikki Terrile
Children's Literature
More than anything Darcy wants to play on the boys' high school baseball team. She gets her chance when Brandon, the principal's son on whom she has a huge crush, tells his dad that Darcy is a lesbian. The principal tells the baseball coach that he will have a new player. Darcy's gay friend Josh flips out when he hears that she is willing to let the principal believe this lie. By the way, he also has a crush on Brandon. Telling her this is not a matter to be taken lightly; Josh threatens to expose her if she and Brandon join the Gay-Straight Alliance. Meanwhile Darcy wins a spot as a pitcher and replaces Brandon as the shortstop. To make matters more complicated, Darcy's mother is dating the principal. Amidst these circuitous and complicated relationships Bildner presents a great deal of information about gays and lesbians. And why is it assumed that a teenage girl who wants to play sports with the guys is a lesbian? Interestingly it is left open-ended as to whether Brandon is gay. Some schools will need to be aware that the "b" word (it rhymes with witch) is used here. References to the sit-com "Friends" may date it. Humor permeates this book: the way the author sets up situations and Darcy's reactions. This light touch makes the book highly accessible, fun to read, and perfect for discussing how we judge and label people. 2006, Simon & Schuster, Ages 14 up.
—Sharon Salluzzo
Shawn O'Neil
Darcy Miller wants to play baseball, but her high school principal says she can't because she's a girl. But when Principal Bassett thinks that Darcy's a lesbian, he changes his mind. His reasoning? Not allowing her to play would bring controversy to the school. So Darcy pretends to be gay to play. The book has some problems: the characters are all wealthy, which could alienate readers, and the only openly gay character is stereotypically so, propagating stereotypes instead of breaking them. Despite this, the novel describes what it means to be gay in an American high school, while also educating on the issue. This novel is solidly written and approaches a sensitive topic well. It is full of high school drama and humorous descriptions, which really pull the plot along.
School Library Journal
Gr 8 Up-Darcy Miller is a softball star frustrated with her less-than-stellar high school team. Wanting to make better use of her talents, she tries to convince the principal that she could take the boys' baseball team to the championships if only she were given the chance. However, Mr. Basset is less than thrilled with the idea until his son, Brandon, Darcy's long-term crush, tells him that Darcy is a lesbian. She plays along with the ruse, showing little concern for the consequences that pretending to be gay could have on her social life. Why being a lesbian makes one eligible to play boys' baseball is not addressed. In exchange for getting the opportunity to try out, the principal forces Darcy to join the Gay Straight Alliance. At this point the plot becomes even more preposterous. The GSA president, Josh, is Darcy's ex-best friend and fellow admirer of Brandon. When Josh gets wind of Darcy's plan to be a "closeted straight," he vows to expose her, but not before teaching her a poorly executed lesson on tolerance. The anticlimactic resolution to this Shakespearean-farce-gone-bland ends with Brandon saving the day and getting the girl, while Darcy becomes captain of the baseball team, with no repercussions for her actions. Flat characterizations, dated slang, and wholly unbelievable scenarios prevent this novel from being anything close to a homerun.-Michelle Roberts, Merrick Library, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Implausible characterizations and motivations run through this high-school senior's first-person narration of a feud, a crush and making the boys' baseball team. Darcy, a stellar pitcher-hitter-shortstop, has spent three glum years relegated to the (losing) girls' softball team. The school principal-who's dating Darcy's mother, to Darcy's horror-hears some information from his son (on whom Darcy and ex-best friend Josh both have mad crushes): Supposedly Darcy's a lesbian. This is false but inexplicably convinces the principal to allow Darcy onto the baseball team. A vendetta between Josh and Darcy involves their crush object and the school's Gay-Straight Alliance. Darcy's consistent cockiness and perfect play-"I fielded each one effortlessly (as usual)"-make her goal achievements hard to care about. Bildner relies on commentary like, "My mouth literally dropped" and "I visibly gasped" to force a sense of urgency. Too improbable for realism, not sharp enough for farce and simply unconvincing. (Fiction. YA)
From the Publisher
"Insightful, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny. . . . An inside-out look at high school sports."

— Pete Hautman, National Book Award winner for Godless

"Phil Bildner's screwball comedy sings with wit and originality and a refreshingly frank and funny exploration of bias and discrimination against gays. Like Darcy Miller's magical pitching arm, it sinks a fastball straight into your heart."

— Tracy Mack, author of Birdland

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416902843
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 2/28/2006
  • Pages: 192
  • Age range: 14 years
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Phil Bildner is the author of the New York Times bestselling Sluggers! series, the Texas Bluebonnet Award-winning Shoeless Joe & Black Betsy and its companion, The Shot Heard 'Round the World, both illustrated by C. F. Payne; and Twenty-One Elephants, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. His latest picture book is Turkey Bowl, illustrated by C.F Payne. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.

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Customer Reviews

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( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 14, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Reviewed by Sally Kruger, aka "Readingjunky" for TeensReadToo.com

    Meet Darcy. She is a senior and a star softball player. Her dream has always been to play baseball. That dream is about to come true, but there is a catch. <BR/><BR/>Darcy's life is far from easy. Her high school principal is currently dating and yuck! sleeping with her mother. Attempts by her mother to convince Principal Basset that her daughter should be part of the boys' baseball team have fallen short. That is, until someone tells the principal that Darcy is gay. <BR/><BR/>Upon hearing this shocking news, Darcy's first reaction is to hastily explain the truth and even admit her crush on his son, Brandon. But after the initial shock of the announcement, Darcy realizes that her dream could come true if she is willing to participate in a small game of sexual deception. What's wrong with pretending to be gay? Who could it hurt? <BR/><BR/>Phil Bildner uses terrific humor and a fair amount of baseball action to create a fast-paced tale of Darcy's life spinning out of control. Readers will be entertained by Darcy's love life, an improving season for the baseball team, and some crazy meetings of the school's GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) organization. PLAYING THE FIELD has a little something for everyone.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 3, 2006

    Playing the Field

    Some folks are 'unable to distinguish between political differences and personal hatred...'. As a middle school teacher I read a wide range of teen and young adult literature. 'Playing the Field' is layered with themes that provide a platform for discussions of tough to teach topics. It is an entertaining and insightful must read for educators. Each character delivers poignant messages through vivid, energetic, and entertaining voices. This book is a nonstop read for middle and high school students.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2006

    Playing the Field

    Mr. Bildner's first novel is a must read with unforgettable characters and poignant social commentary about a tough to teach topic. I cancelled all my appointments and spent the day 'Playing the Field.' This is a book that teens should recommend to parents.

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