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All Star

by Jesse Lonergan

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1421,168,602 (3)None
As the summer of 1998 nears, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are racing each other to break the home-run record, Bill Clinton is being questioned about a certain Monica Lewinsky, Semisonic's 'Closing Time' is top of the charts and Carl Carter is leading the Elizabeth Monarchs of rural Vermont to the state championship his senior year. The world is Carl's oyster: a full scholarship to the University of Maine awaits, going pro after college isn't out of the question and he's so good he can do whatever he wants - until, that is, he makes one very arrogant mistake.… (more)
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This would have made for a decent After School Special. Egotistic kid makes dumb choices and reluctantly learns lessons about life, the class system and brotherhood. ( )
  villemezbrown | Jul 28, 2018 |
Based upon review written for No Flying No Tights

The year is 1998. In Major League Baseball Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are beginning their race to break the long standing home-run record. Bill Clinton is being questioned about a girl named Monica. And in rural Vermont, senior Carl Carter is leading the Elizabeth Monarchs to the baseball state championship. Carl has it made. He has a full scholarship to the University of Maine to play baseball for them and maybe afterwards...the pro’s. The only thing standing in his way is graduation and that should be a piece of cake, it isn’t too far away and Carl has his best bud Esden Hubbard to help him make it. But everything comes crashing down the night Carl makes a mistake and suddenly all of it, baseball, graduation, best friends, and everything is put into jeopardy.

This is one of those books that I struggle with reviewing as it the heart of the story, an entitled student athlete, is one that is well told and would be beneficial for a variety of young adults to read. Carl’s fall from grace and the consequences that he deals with are well told and will leave readers unsettled by the end, forcing them to ask questions about themselves and what they would do in a similar situation. Yet...the meat of the book, is often a struggle as it seems Lonergan isn’t quite sure if he’s telling an autobiographical tale or a coming of age story. And that’s a problem for me. If the story is autobiographical, or even semi-autobiographical, I’m willing to overlook things that date the story, such as the mention of Bill Clinton, or even how characters are described than I would if this were a work of pure fiction. However, if it is solely meant to be a fictional coming of age tale, I struggle with the mention of dated elements, such as that of the home run race and Bill Clinton, and the extremely personal setting of rural Vermont, which may make it hard for readers to appreciate some of the things being discussed, such as a K-12 school. So instead of having a setting that is easy for readers to place themselves into and relate to, it pulls them out of the story forcing them to look up information or not being able to relate to the setting.

While there are aspects of Lonergan’s style that I like, such as the clean simple lines and the movement of the characters as they play baseball, I struggle with the bulk of the artistic elements and how some of the characters are drawn. First, let’s start with the cover. When I first saw the cover I honestly thought that the main character was going to be female, and was disappointed when I found out that it was a male character. The shape of the face, the long eyelashes, the position and build of the body...they all conveyed female to me. And if your main character is male, the last thing you want is people picking up the book thinking its about a female character. Lonergan’s style also is not conducive to always telling the story well, particularly with the silent panels. For example, on page 14 where we’re introduced to Chelsea Hubbard, Carl slides up to her and puts his hands together, apparently to ask a question. And while this is something that a teen would do, the reader is just being introduced to the two characters and we have no idea what’s being asked and leave the page wondering what he was asking her. Similarly, on the same page where we meet Esden, the caption says “If records were kept, he’d hold the mark for career suspensions” and shows two people fighting, one of whom may be Esden. Given that in the previous panel we saw him interacting with Carl, the reader is left to assume that Carl and Esden are apparently fighting and then in the very next panel...not. Its a very confusing transition. There are other places where the spot blacks are uneven, especially with Esden’s eyebrows, which often look like extra mutated eyes. All together the drawings feel rushed in many places and distract from the story versus enhance it.

Given the issues that I have with the book, I struggle to recommend it to readers. Fans of baseball will likely enjoy it, regardless of its flaws. The flaws, however, overwhelm the positive aspects of the story and place the book at the back of the line for me. ( )
  zzshupinga | Jan 2, 2015 |
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As the summer of 1998 nears, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa are racing each other to break the home-run record, Bill Clinton is being questioned about a certain Monica Lewinsky, Semisonic's 'Closing Time' is top of the charts and Carl Carter is leading the Elizabeth Monarchs of rural Vermont to the state championship his senior year. The world is Carl's oyster: a full scholarship to the University of Maine awaits, going pro after college isn't out of the question and he's so good he can do whatever he wants - until, that is, he makes one very arrogant mistake.

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