Thoughts by Gish Jen, Knopf 2021 (orig 2020), 305 pages
Genre/Theme: Contemporary Lit, Dystopia, Baseball, YA?
Type/Source: Tradeback/Indie bookstore
What It’s About: A former college professor and his public aid attorney wife have a baby girl who turns out is a baseball prodigy. They live on ‘the wrong side of the tracks’ in this dystopian former United States that have separated people into two groups of have and have not: the “Netted” and the “Surplus”; the land-dwellers and the swamp or boat people.
The narrator is the father, a tinkerer and baseball coach – not because he knows and loves baseball, but to nurture the gifts that his daughter obviously has and wants to develop. His lawyer wife takes on cases against the government proving that actions of the ‘system’ are detrimental to the Surplus population and violation of “FREEDOM”. The Surplus freedom is limited, let’s say. They are constantly under surveillance, receive no educational opportunities, yet are expected to be grateful because they get housing and free food. But is the food tainted?
Daughter grows up, is recruited to join the Netted’s baseball team, is just about as perfect and lovable and talented as she can be – and I loved it!
Thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I think it was the tone; rather upbeat for a family that is abused more than most for their efforts to “fight the man”. I loved the family dynamic. I loved Grant’s mother’s little pithy sayings. (Grant is the father/narrator), I loved Gwen being so badass and trusting and nice and still a badass. Her mother, too. She was all business yet had a big heart.
I’ve read that some thought this heavy-handed and the characters flat. But I loved it. Very readable, laugh out loud funny sometimes, drama and excitement – especially if you love baseball. Also, I do want to say, that I think the reader who is not a fan of sports could still find much to enjoy in this. I also want to suggest that if you are a reader who sees words, then the audiobook may not be your best avenue. I needed to SEE the words; Ondi and Auntie sound too much alike and the portmanteau words that describe much of “AutoAmerica” (Automatic America) just didn’t register until I saw the letters.
Rating: Five slices of pie. OH! This book has pie!!! LOTS of pie. I hope Instagrammer Pie and Book Phenom @PieLadyBooks reads this one because I would love to see what she would create.
But later she said that she pictured Eleanor sitting at that big table with the apple pie untouched in front of her, and everything came together.”
and why doesn’t my end quote copyright show up in the tiny print I want??
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