Henry "Biggie" Abbott is the son of one of his hometown's most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn't understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. "Forty percent, that's an F in any class," he would say. As Biggie's junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad's footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try.
Published May 15th 2016 by Aw Teen (first published March 1st 2015)
Available: Amazon | The Book Depository (affiliate links)
This book follows Henry's journey as he struggles with his identity as a large kid in a small town. Being larger comes with prejudice all its own anyway, not to mention how the taunts and bullying resonate with an individual when there is literally nowhere else to go and when his father's athletic success precedes him everywhere. This story shows a heartwrenching and angering example of how mean and rude individuals can be to someone with a little extra weight. This issue is often approached from the side of how it affects young women, but it also is extremely harmful to boys and young men as well.
What I love about the book, however, is that Henry, "Biggie," does not wallow in his status as the big boy, though it does (for lack of a better term) weigh on him at times. He has decided he is going to do something different and change because of a health scare and because he wants to win the heart of the girl he has always loved. For him, this takes the form of achieving athletic success in baseball, playing the social game the jocks play, and losing weight to be able to do both better.
Through his attempts, Henry learns that nothing can be perfect, no matter how desperately he wants it to be. You can't pitch the perfect game. You don't always get the girl in a story perfect fashion. The person you end up with is not always the one you expect. Even some people you thought were complete jerks end up being decent human beings. I love that the characters had that sort of depth - they resist being demonized, even the guy who gave Henry the name Biggie way back in grade school.
This book will appeal to teens of all stripes. I love that it focuses on a male character dealing with his struggles authentically.
Source: Thanks to the publisher for providing a copy of this title in exchange for a fair review.