February 25, 2015

Review: The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith
Publication date: March 4, 2008
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Category: Young Adult - Contemporary
Source: Purchased
Summary: The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn't worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it's been five whole years since the last time she was truly happy. Because she's finally returning to the place her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on the fifth anniversary of his death, there's nowhere else in the world she should be. Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. It's on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past or believe in the promise of hope. (Adapted goodreads.com)

The good
The Comeback Season reminded me of something I haven't thought about in a long time — I used to be a Mets fan. Now, I know practically nothing about baseball. I just went to my first game a couple years ago and barely paid attention. The closest I’ve come to being interested in the sport is when my younger cousin played Little League and I’d pretend-train him for fun. So how was I ever a Mets fan? Simply because my grandfather was. We were really close and because he loved them, I loved them. Like me, this is how Ryan Walsh became the Cubs fan that she is. Because her father loved them and the two of them would go to games together all the time. But unlike me, she actually learned how to follow the sport and appreciate it. So on the fifth anniversary of her father’s death, she heads to Wrigley Field to see the Cubs and to feel close to her dad. And on her way there, she meets Nick, the new kid at her school, who seems to be just as fanatical about the Cubs as she is. They both are holding on to the past, for different reasons, but as the year unfolds they help each other face what lies ahead and in typical Jennifer E. Smith fashion, it is poignant and beautifully written.

There are so many wonderful little details scattered throughout the book and in the characters. Namely, Ryan. She’s a young teenager who I felt was more sure of herself than she gives herself credit for. She lost her father, her mother eventually remarried and her little sister doesn’t remember him or much of what happened. I don’t blame her for being scared of the future and losing those memories. And I don’t doubt experiencing loss at a young age changes a person. The author shows this as childhood friends drift away and as those same girls start getting into makeup and dresses, Ryan is still happiest in jeans and her Cubs t-shirt. And she’s ok with that. She points out that she doesn’t like the tomboy label and she’s been confident that guys have liked her. I liked how she was aware of these things in a simple, straightforward way. She knew who she was but there were bigger things going on in her life. But she does acknowledge how she misses her childhood friends sometimes and how easy it was as kids. They end up playing a role in the book and I liked the exploration of growing up and growing apart but how that history can still tie you together in unexpected ways.

Then the build up between Ryan and Nick was just right. They bond together over their love of the Cubs and there’s a lot of baseball talk but even for a non-sports fan like me, I didn’t mind it at all. So  I can see how a real baseball fan would love that. I liked how they became friends first and how they slowly opened up to one another. There was just no rush and something about that pacing really suited the book. I think because it felt real and they are young so I wasn’t expecting some passionate, crazy love affair. But at the same time, I didn’t doubt the depth of their feelings for each other either.

(No) Reservations
None, I loved it!

Do I recommend?
Yes! I have officially read all of Jennifer E. Smith’s YA books and this is actually her first one (naturally, this is what I read last) and this just solidified her position as one of my favorite authors. And of her books, I would definitely put this in my top three.

Happy reading!

3 comments:

  1. I have read the two more popular Jen E. Smith books and loved them both, and I've been meaning to read her latest book. I hadn't really considered her previous work yet, but now I will definitely do! This sounds like a charming story!

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  2. No reservations at all?! Wow I need to read this book! I've actually never heard of this book or this author before so I'll definitely be checking it out at some point in the future.

    Christina | Passion Obsession

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  3. I still haven't read The Comeback Season! I do love Jennifer's writing style though, and there's no doubt in my mind that I'm going to enjoy reading her debut YA novel. Though I'm not much of a baseball fan, I don't think that will stop me from falling in love with this story. Glad to hear that you really enjoyed it!

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