Charlie desperately wants to make the baseball team, but he can’t seem to focus when bullies taunt him. His lack of focus costs him his chance at the team. After the tryouts, he’s surprised when a black man offers some baseball advice that helps right away. The man introduces himself as Luther and says he’s looking for work. Charlie claims Luther as a new friend and, with the help of his mom, finds Luther a job. He also quickly decides he likes Luther much more than his mother’s boyfriend, Vern. Vern’s racist attitude doesn’t win him any brownie points with Charlie either. But Charlie doesn’t realize how much trouble can be found by trying to straddle the line between black and white. Sometimes it’s a matter of life and death.
I read this several years ago and enjoyed it again recently when my family and I listed to it on a road trip. The ending is…well, dramatic. Maybe even a tad too dramatic but not enough to complain about and plenty to keep you on the edge of your seat. Charlie’s innocence and loyalty make his friendship with Luther that much better. Luther is also an easy character to like. You’ll feel his pain right along with him. This book focuses more on the historical fiction side than the sports side, but it has plenty of baseball to make it count for this month’s theme.