Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Chin Music

Title: Chin Music
Author: Lee Edelstein
Publisher: Sela House
Publication Date: March, 2013
Genre/Format: Realistic and Historical Fiction/Novel
Goodreads Summary: "Chin Music." A 95 mile-per-hour fastball thrown at a hitter s chin -- an instant s difference between disrupting the batter s concentration and hitting him in the head. As a metaphor in life, chin music is the split second when destinies are altered and all of our certainties about who we are change forever. Sixteen-year-old Ryan Buck is a talented athlete who was fortunate to escape with minor injuries from the horrific car crash that devastated his family. But factor in the suffocating guilt and the recurring nightmare that plagues him and maybe Ryan wasn t so lucky, after all. Two-and-a-half years and countless hours of therapy later, Ryan still can t remember a thing about the accident and it s making for agonizingly slow progress. But everything changes when his mom, Susan, is forced to sell the old Babe Ruth artifacts that have been in the family for years. Enter Sam Frank, a Yoda-like figure, who saves Susan from making a costly mistake. Sam s friendship and knowledge provides the support Susan needs to investigate a secret that has plagued her family for generations the remarkable encounter between her great grandmother Zel and the immortal Yankee slugger. As Ryan slowly makes progress, baseball becomes an important outlet, emotionally and physically. When his superior talent for the sport is recognized, a chance at the major leagues becomes a reality, leaving Susan torn between her excitement at Ryan's prospects and protecting her family from the truth that will turn their world upside down. When the facts emerge, it becomes a story with startling implications for the Buck family, baseball, and sports fans across America.
What I Think: When I first started reading Chin Music, I couldn't figure out how the 2013 story would connect with the 1926 story. As I read, I really enjoyed both stories though they felt so disconnected. Though this disconnection is part of what kept me reading- I had to know "How do they connect?". But the more I read, the more I also wanted to know what happened to the characters. I felt Ryan's loss and wanted to make sure he was going to be okay, I rooted for Zel as she fought the sexism of the 1920's, and I wanted Ryan's family to be fixed.
     Some of the topics within the book are much deeper than the story. Ryan's aspect of the novel discusses survivor's guilt, PTSD, death of a family member, amputation, and depression. Although his story seems to be about baseball, it is more about his dealing with grief and family.  Of course, there are great baseball discussions that can be built from many different parts of this book: there is Ryan's baseball journey as well as baseball history. I loved the author's notes in the end that shared which Babe Ruth aspects in the book were based in truth.
     With Zel's story, it seems like it is about Babe Ruth and barbers, but it is about women's rights and a young lady finding herself a place in the world that women still struggle to survive in. I found many passages throughout that would be a wonderful addition to a discussion about women in the 1920s. 
Read Together: Grades 10 to 12 (Though aspects can be used as read alouds with lower grades.) 
Read Alone: Grades 9 and up
Read With: Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson, The Legend of the Curse of the Bambino by Dan Shaughnessy, Nonfiction books about Babe Ruth, Women's Suffrage, and the 1920's
Snatch of Text: "It was the middle of the night and Ryan awoke bathed in sweat. It was the dream again, the same damn one. The one where he throws a pass to his wide receiver but instead of a football, it's a key tumbling ever so slowly, like in slow motion, end-over-end, until it lands softly in his receiver's hands, except it's Michael who catches it in the end zone for the winning touchdown. Ryan throws his arms up in victory and goes charging down the field to celebrate with his teammates but he runs right into a hospital room where he suddenly finds himself in bed. His father and Michael are standing behind the doctor who is saying to him 'you're going to make a full recover.'" -2013 (p. 3) 

"It was the height of the season and the streets of St. Petersburg were alive with activity. The city, like many others in Florida, had grown dramatically, riding the boom of Florida real estate that had been going full bore since the beginning of the decade. Just in the past year five new hotels had been built or were under construction, employing hundreds of people." -1926 (p. 20)
Mentor Text for: Attention Grabber, Characterization, Setting
Writing Prompts: Zel deals with prejudice because of her gender, but overcomes it because of her gumption; has there been an aspect of your life where you have felt prejudice? How did you overcome it? 
Topics Covered: Survivors Guilt, PTSD, Loss, Baseball, Therapy, Family, Amputation, Women's Rights, 1920s, Babe Ruth, Mothers and Sons
I *heart* It:
**Thank you to Lee Edelstein and TLC Book Tours for providing a copy of Chin Music for review. Come back Thursday for another Chin Music post :)**

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