The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach
Here’s a novel for all you sportspeople out there, for anyone who understands the pressure of the game and the importance of concentration/confidence. It is the story of a boy, Henry, who is recruited to a college baseball team because he’s a shortstop who has broken a record of sorts of games in a row with no errors. His captain, known as Schwartz, drives him hard and builds him up to achieve a degree of notoriety and he begins to attract scouts from the majors. Meanwhile, the daughter of the president of the college, whose life has fallen apart forcing her to return to her father and the college campus, develops a relationship with Schwartz. At the same time, her father has an affair with Henry’s roommate and good friend, Owen. This sounds convoluted and it is to a degree, but it actually works for this story.
The writing is crisp and fresh and the characters become people you want to know. You really care when Henry’s confidence wilts and throws his game. You are really happy for Pella (the daughter) when she falls for Schwartz, giving her a second chance at love. And you really want Owen and the President to get together, although the ethics there are both questionable and questioned.
As a prior softball player and a mom of a baseball player, I also understood the analogy of the baseball game to life and how hard work and perseverance pays off but confidence is essential.