This thoughtful, moving narrative concerns a boy's struggle to confront his mother's alcoholism. Ever since sixth-grader Tony's father left, matters at home have been in turmoil. Mom was sometimes ``sick'' before Dad's departure, but now she is constantly ill. Tony's four-year-old sister Christy lives in a world of imaginary friends, and the boy feels responsible for the entire household. The only time he can be truly relaxed and secure is on the ball field, where he blazes baseballs across the plate. Unfortunately, Tony cannot hide from his problems forever, and neither can his mother. Anderson delineates her hero's internal struggles sensitively and realistically; his experiences reflect the fear, anger and confusion that children of alcoholics face on a daily basis. While she offers hope and reassurance with the return of Tony's father, she is careful not to promise any quick, easy resolutions to this complicated and painful situation. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)
School Library Journal
Gr 5-7-- Tony lives in a family strongly into denial. His mother calls her alcoholism ``the flu,'' while his father is ``away on business,'' unable to cope at home. Even his preschool sister, Christy, deals with her mother's neglect by inventing imaginary friends. Tony is confused by the events at home and finds release from his troubles on the baseball diamond where he is a star pitcher. His inability to come to grips with his family's troubles is well portrayed, as is the escape that he finds in the total concentration required by baseball. The novel ends with the return of the father and Tony's understanding of the extent of his mother's problems. Realistically, there are no simple solutions here; the mother has not admitted her addiction and refuses to seek help. Somewhat incredibly, Tony fairly quickly forgives his father and finds his anxieties lessening in a world in which he is ``safe at home.'' There's a particularly overdone speech by Christy about fantasy worlds and the need to face reality. Overall, however, this is an effective portrait of a boy's difficulty in the face of a desperate situation. --Todd Morning, Schaumburg Township Public Library, IL
Tony loves baseball, and as star pitcher of his school team, he is in control of the game, delivering a variety of pitches to keep the opposing batters off balance. But at home, it is Tony who never knows what's coming next. Dad's been gone for six months. Some days Mom is fine, but too often Tony comes home from school to find her sick in bed and his little sister, Christy, left to amuse herself in front of the TV. On those days, Tony endures the jeers of the other delivery boys and takes Christy along on his paper route, then fixes dinner for both of them. A concerned son and devoted brother, Tony forgoes many of the joys of boyhood in order to hold his family together. But his mother's unrecognized and unarrested alcoholism fills him with worry and guilt. Finally a crisis in his mother's condition brings Dad home, releases Tony from his adult burdens, and offers the hope of returned stability at home. Tony can be likened to the protagonist in Radin's "All Joseph Wanted" , as both boys are admirable youths who uncomplainingly assume parental responsibilities despite longing to pursue their own interests. Tony's story, a smooth integration of baseball and daily life play-by-play, offers a riveting read.