Strike Two is okay, but there are problems with the plot. There is too much detail about Gwen's everyday lifeminor stuff that is not very interesting. When the strike occurs, it keeps getting worse and worse. The happy ending shows that things can get better, but I would have liked it to be less abrupt because it comes too fast when compared with the rest of the story. VOYA CODES: 3Q 4P M J (Readable without serious defects; Broad general YA appeal; Middle School, defined as grades 6 to 8; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2001, Dial, 144p, $16.99. Ages 11 to 15. Reviewer: Miriam Levy, Teen Reviewer
What is a seventh grade girl supposed to do when she finds herself trapped in the middle of a "Hate Plague," and all she really wants to do is play softball and hang out with Jess, her best friend and cousin? Gwen's problems begin when her father goes on strike from the newspaper where he works as a copy editor. His brother is on the other sidemanagement. Absorbed in her own needs, Gwen is slow to see the tension and animosity building around her until, suddenly, everything she cares about is crumbling. The company-sponsored softball team has kicked her off, her family is split down the middle with her closest friend on the wrong side, and her parents argue constantly. Readers will enjoy the sports action, true-to-life scenes, and realistic dialogue. Unfortunately, the ending doesn't live up to the strength of the build-up. Still, this novel does an excellent job of portraying the shock children can go through when the world around them goes insane and they discover that their own lives can't go on being normal. 2001, Dial/Penguin Putnam, $16.99. Ages 10 to 13. Reviewer: Betty Hicks
In this cleverly titled story, Gwen is looking forward to spending the summer before seventh grade playing softball with her best friend and cousin Jess. Then a strike at the local newspaper, where both girls' fathers work, changes everything. Gwen's father is part of the striking union; his twin brother is management, so a rift develops between the families. The "Hate Plague" caused by the strike spreads, affecting even the girls' softball team, which is supported by the newspaper. Gwen feels pressured to quit the team along with the other strikers' daughters, and she and Jess find themselves at odds with each other. Gwen turns to an upbeat new friend, Vicky, and starts to volunteer with her at the strikers' headquarters, helping out with meals and childcare. She learns how devastating the economic effects and the hostilities aroused by the strike are for many people, and sees how the strike affects her own household, as her out-of-work Dad becomes increasingly bitter, her mother takes a full-time job, and the stress causes her parents to argue loudly with each other. Jess decides that the strikers' kids should challenge the management kids, their ex-teammates, to a softball game, to help break the tensionand in the middle of the game the strike is finally resolved. This is a sensitive, realistic, and often-humorous look at how adult troubles can affect the lives of adolescents. Gwen, Jess, and their friends are caught up in the strike, whether they like it or not, and the situation is an eye-opener for Gwen. As in her other YA novels, The Ashwater Experiment, The Girls, and Stranger in Dadland, Koss shows a deep understanding of the emotional lives of young teens. Readers willget involved in Gwen's tale and appreciate her frustration and anger over the strike, as well as her love of playing ball. KLIATT Codes: JRecommended for junior high school students. 2001, Penguin Putnam, Dial, 144p., $16.99. Ages 13 to 15. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick; September 2001 (Vol. 35 No. 5)
Gr 4-7-Gwen can't be more excited as a summer of softball stretches ahead of her. She and her best friend/cousin, Jess, play for the Press Gazette, the city's newspaper, which employs both of their fathers. The girls have been "practicing forever," and building a championship team this season is well within their sights. What isn't anticipated is the strike that divides their families: Gwen's dad is "labor" and his brother is "management." At first, Gwen enjoys having her father home, available to shuttle her to practice and the movies, and she even accompanies him on the high-spirited picket line. He assures her that the dispute won't last long: "By tomorrow they'll be on their knees, begging us to come back." The mood darkens and tension builds, however, as the strike continues, ultimately disrupting relationships and, of course, the softball season. Characterization is strong, revealed through Gwen's first-person narrative and solid dialogue. In a believable plot, the young people finally are able to begin the healing process in the community-with a little help from their irascible grandmother. Koss has created realistic characters that young people will both recognize and relate to. They will also recognize the influence that the larger adult world has, and understand that they are not powerless.-Lee Bock, Glenbrook Elementary School, Pulaski, WI Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
A bitter strike creates a family split possibly beyond even baseball's power to mend, in this engaging tale from the author of Stranger in Dadland (p. 185). Gwen is eager for a summer of softball with teammate, cousin, and closest friend Jess, but that field of dreams loses its luster when the local newspaper that sponsors their team is hit by a strike. Gwen and Jess learn that their twin dads are on opposite sides of the dispute-a fact that takes on more and more weight as the strike goes on, tensions mount, and ugly incidents begin to occur. At first, Gwen has no idea what it all means, but as a new "us vs. them" attitude polarizes even the children in management and labor families, as she overhears talk of scabs and scare tactics, and as she sees widening rifts develop within her family, even between her own parents, annoyance gives way to confusion, fear, and despondence. Soon even she and Jess are on the outs. So what is there to do but organize a game between the strikers' kids and managements'? Fortunately for the tale's credibility, though news of the strike's settlement happens to come during that game, sparking a jubilant, all-is-forgiven celebration, it's really a coincidence. The real victory here is the convincing way Gwen inches past that feeling of powerlessness to the realization that, while not all problems have simple solutions, there's nothing stopping her from stepping up to the plate and taking some healthy swings. (Fiction. 11-13)