Monday, December 13, 2010

The Comeback Season by Jennifer E. Smith

The Comeback Season
By Jennifer E. Smith
February 23, 2010
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 246 pages

The last place Ryan Walsh should be this afternoon is on a train heading to Wrigley Field. She should be in class, enduring yet another miserable day of her first year of high school. But for once, Ryan isn't thinking about what she should be doing. She's not worried about her lack of friends, or her suffering math grade, or how it's been five whole years since the last time she was really and truly happy. Because she's finally returning to the place that her father loved, where the two of them spent so many afternoons cheering on their team. And on this—the fifth anniversary of his death—it feels like there's nowhere else in the world she should be.

Ryan is once again filled with hope as she makes her way to the game. Good luck is often hard to come by at a place like Wrigley Field, but it's on this day that she meets Nick, the new kid from her school, who seems to love the Cubs nearly as much as she does. But Nick carries with him a secret that makes Ryan wonder if anyone can ever really escape their past, or believe in the promise of those reassuring words: "Wait till next year." Is it too much for Ryan to hope that this year, this season, might be her comeback season?

— description

I couldn't care less about the Chicago Cubs. And baseball in general.


As a Chicagoan, this isn't something I would normally admit to anyone because, to put it mildly, people here take their baseball seriously.

But regardless of whether you care about baseball (or are a rival White Sox fan), I think you have to admire how faithfully Cubs fans overlook their bad plays and their so-called curses, consistently vowing that "there's always next year."

Where does hope like that come from?

That's the question that's really explored in this book. So, yeah...I hate baseball, but I loved this book because it's about so much more than a ballgame. The Comeback Season is about first love, lost friendships, grief and—above all—hope.

I don't want to say more and spoil anything, but I can say Jennifer E. Smith does a beautiful job of paralleling the game of baseball with the game of life. When things are looking their worst, how do you hold on to your hope for a comeback? It's definitely a question worth exploring in this great but heartbreaking book.

Also, a round of applause for a book for that will show teen girls who like sports that they're not alone. To me, YA fiction is all about building that sense of understanding and inclusion.

Bonus: It's so fun to read about my hometown. Has anyone else out there read a book that's set where they live? Please share!

If you like this book, you might also like: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Anna Reads young adult book blog


  1. Great review. This book has only just come on my radar. We don't really have baseball as major sport over here in Australia but I love The Dairy Queen so I am adding this to my wishlist :)

  2. I haven't come across much set in Ithaca yet, but I always enjoy reading books or watching shows set in my area of LA. A few years ago I was in India and I got hooked on Michael Connelly novels because of their LA setting. I could read them there and feel a little less homesick :)

  3. I just recently discovered this author. I have another book of her's titled "You Are Here" but I haven't read it yet. Based on your review for this one, I may need to bump it up my to be read list!

    Unfortunately I have not read any YA novels based in Houston. I did read a book once that was set in a small town just north of here & that was interesting.. especially when they talked about major highways & such. However they talked like they could travel from one side of Texas to the next in just a few hours! Uh not true! Try an entire day :-)

  4. Baseball is SO not my thing. Colour me un-American. Anyhoo, I've never even heard of this book before! I'm glad to see you enjoyed the book despite your hatred of "America's sport ;) Great review, Anna!

  5. I have to say I'm not a huge baseball fan either. I can appreciate the skill it takes to play, but I have no interest in watching it:) Love the sound of this book though, sign me up for fist love, hope, and heartbreak, I'm a sucker for all those things. Thanks for this review Anna!

  6. Not exactly my hometown, but I loved Catch, by Will Leitch, which was about a boy from Mattoon, Illinois the summer before he goes to college at the University of Illinois. I live in a small town in Illinois, and went to U of I, so I could relate. Amazon:

  7. I really don't care for baseball itself but to go to a game is enjoyable. Surpisingly, I've been to more baseball games then my male... friends.

    Looks like a fun and different book to read.

    Mad Scientist

  8. Oooh I might have to throw this one on my TBR list. I ABSOLUTELY *LURVED* Dairy Queen. Because we go and visit Hubs' grandparents' dairy farm each year for Christmas, I hold that story very near and dear to my heart. And I don't care much for football (GASP) either, which is unheard of in the South, at least.

    I haven't read any baseball stories (or YA ones for that matter) so I'm definitely interested in The Comeback Season.

  9. I must read this - I have to read any and everything based in Chicago. I could care less about baseball either, but it would be fun to read about the stadium I go by twice every day!

  10. I might get away with reading this as long as my dad never knows about it! I think he would disown me for reading a book at all involved with the Cubs...he's a HUGE baseball fan, and I mean HUGE and obviously NOT a Cubs fan(White Sox fan myself). Anyway, great review!


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