The Brooklyn Nine Reviewed by Susan Sales Harkins
Susan Sales Harkins: Susan is a Software consultant and the author of several articles and books on database technologies. She and her husband, William, collaborate on children's non-fiction.View all articles by Susan Harkins
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Gratz scores again!
One thing's for sure, Alan Gratz is not a one-book flash-in-the-pan author. This guy just keeps knocking hits out of the ballpark!
The Brooklyn Nine, Gratz's most recent novel, is aimed at the middle grade reader. It's a nostalgic piece covering nine generations (innings) of the same family. As you might suspect, baseball is the ribbon that weaves through the years to bind the characters. However, this book isn't really about baseball -- it's about the varied lives of nine American adolescents. Ten-year-old Felix allows us to witness the birth of American baseball. However, through Felix, we learn far more about the plight of immigrants in the early nineteenth century than baseball. Then, there's Louis Schneider, who plays baseball, when he's not fighting Civil War battles. Frankie Snider gets the best of a con artist and Kat Snider gets to play league ball during WWII because all the men are at war. Those last two characters are girls; this is not a boy's book. This book isn't just for sports or baseball fans either. Most middle grade readers will find something to identify with and enjoy in this book.
Each chapter is a new character with a new story. Gratz artfully connects them through baseball history and paraphernalia. Despite the one story per chapter format, you still get a big story experience.
Gratz's knowledge of baseball and American history is impressive. In truth, this book is really an historical narrative, although readers will never realize it. Every fact has its purpose and each character is well drawn, developed, unique, and delightful.