Before Molly Williams' father died, he left her a gift. He taught her the art of throwing a knuckleball and she is able to throw it with incredible accuracy. It is the one piece of her father that she is able to really hold onto since her mother has become distant and the two of them are struggling through their grief.
Not only did Molly's dad teach her to throw the knuckleball so that it danced and floated like a butterfly, he taught her the love of baseball. Molly is intrigued by all of it, the ball parks, the players numbers and the statistics. In fact she thinks of life as a baseball game and people she comes in contact with earn points in her batting average of life scoring system. Another way she copes with her father' death.
When she discovers some of her father's belongings including a reporter's notepad, she hopes to learn more about his death. Unfortunately, the notepad is blank, but it leads Molly to interview him in her imagination, another step in her grief process.
Finally, Molly decides to try out for the baseball, rather than the softball team, at school. Even though some of the boys don't want her on the team, the coach recognizes her talent, and has an appreciation for the knuckleball, puts her on the team where she meets a friend. Oddly enough, it is on the baseball field where the healing between mother and daughter begins.
It's been a while since I read this one, but I do remember marveling at the language and softness of the story. Author Mick Cochrane weaves the themes of baseball and grief together creating a touching story. I like this one a lot.
The Sports Literature Association
Abby the Librarian