I always have a difficult time reviewing books about grief – this book in particular, is even harder. I can’t quite reconcile my feelings toward the main character. On the one hand, I truly feel for her. Ryan’s inability to move forward five years after her father’s death deserves all my sympathy. On the other, and forgive me if I may sound a bit callous, but to be inside Ryan’s head was painful in a way that didn’t have anything to do with her grief. We see her struggle day in and day out with the memories of her dad, the life lessons he’d imparted through baseball euphemisms, and everybody else’s capability to move on, leaving her seemingly stagnant in her own depressed state. I wanted to take her by the shoulders and tell her to snap out of it. I wanted her to see that whatever she was doing was the exact opposite of how her father would want her to do. I get it, truly I do. You cannot possibly know what a person is going through unless you’ve actually been there. But that doesn’t mean that she had my full empathy.
This book is really about life’s inevitable disappointments – and what better way to immortalize life’s heartaches than the Cubs’ merry-go-round of curses and heartbreaks? I’m a bit of a sports nut myself, so I understand the emotions we go through with every wins and every losses. I just have never actually applied it in reality. The author either did her homework well, or she wrote from experience. This book is rich in sports history and psychology euphemisms – some a bit more clichéd than others. But the beauty of it all is that the author, in one way or another, gave it a fresh new take that it didn’t induce some justified eye rolls.
I also loved that even though Ryan was always on the outside looking in, she couldn’t care less either way. She didn’t spend her time grumbling about her isolation in school and at home, she just accepted it the way it is. It was her choice, after all. And really, this is where I’m feeling the most conflicted about our character. I have this certain admiration for her but at the same time, it wasn’t easy to ignore her defeatist attitude.
A lot of people have cried over this book; it was an emotional read after all. I would too had I known Nick’s eventual fate. And I don’t know, it was just not as draining a read as I thought it would be. I also wish that the author didn’t leave the ending in such a manner. It was vague that I didn’t get any resolution. But you need to read this book and take it for what it is.