The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Posted by Caitie F on January 8, 2012
Summary from goodreads:
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
Henry’s fight against self-doubt threatens to ruin his future. College president Guert Affenlight, a longtime bachelor, has fallen unexpectedly and helplessly in love. Owen Dunne, Henry’s gay roommate and teammate, becomes caught up in a dangerous affair. Mike Schwartz, the Harpooners’ team captain and Henry’s best friend, realizes he has guided Henry’s career at the expense of his own. And Pella Affenlight, Guert’s daughter, returns to Westish after escaping an ill-fated marriage, determined to start a new life.
As the season counts down to its climactic final game, these five are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties, and secrets. In the process they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths. Written with boundless intelligence and filled with the tenderness of youth, The Art of Fielding is an expansive, warmhearted novel about ambition and its limits, about family and friendship and love, and about commitment–to oneself and to others.
I have been seeing this book for months, yet it was still under the radar until I really looked at the title and realized it was about baseball. Now I love baseball. I went to my first professional game when I was very young and grew up going to at least four or five games a year and watching the rest on TV. So I picked up the book. But don’t ignore this book if you don’t like baseball.
Because it really isn’t just about baseball. Baseball is actually a very small part of what this book is about. It is about becoming an adult, about learning your limits and how to put yourself first. It is about finding what you want, working hard, and sometimes still not getting it. It is about addiction and mistakes. So basically, it is about life.
Harbach masterfully writes characters that feel real, even though they are a little larger than life. He lets the reader learn things about the characters before they even know it about themselves, whic makes the reader care about the character even more.
Yet what impressed me most about his storytelling is what made me most irked at the story. Some of the character don’t change. They don’t get better, they don’t get what they want or need, and they aren’t truly happy in the end, yet there are some that do, but not without some loss or in-completion.
Last night after I finished reading the book, I really had t o think how I would rate it since the ending disappointed me. Yet I couldn’t bring myself to really look at it as a bad thing because it wasn’t the ending the reader wanted, but how often in life does everything work out? Sometimes it does and those times are great. But a lot of the time there are bumps along the way no matter how hard we try to do the right thing.
If you are looking for a great read, even if the ending isn’t entirely happy, I highly recommend you read this book!