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Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 12/01/2014 Gr 6–9—Twelve-year-old Ryder lives with his mom, Ruby, in Manhattan. They have no family or friends except for their across-the-hall neighbor, Stephen Starr, who is homebound in a wheelchair. Ruby works hard cleaning hotel rooms, and Ryder has the best batting average in Little League. One day after a game, Ryder has a minor spat with Ruby, and in a freak accident, she falls off the curb directly into the path of large truck. She is rushed to a nearby hospital where doctors sadly predict that she will not survive given that her injuries have exacerbated an underlying heart condition. Ryder is alone with nowhere to go until Doyle McDonald, the fireman who was at the scene of the accident, feels sorry for the petrified boy and volunteers to find someone to care for him. That someone ends up being the grouchy Mr. Starr who can barely take care of himself. United by a desire to raise money for his mother's operation, Doyle, Mr. Starr, and Ryder devise a scheme to reunite Ryder with Travis Trent, a professional baseball player who may be his father. The quest is a rough one, taking Ryder from the belly of Yankee Stadium to a long journey with Mr. Starr to Turner Field in Atlanta, where they fail in repeated attempts to reach Travis Trent. Can they get to him in time to save Ryder's mother? The plot moves along swiftly with short chapters ending in cliffhanger sentences that nudge the reader to the next adventure. Green, a former linebacker and sports commentator, gives readers a behind-the-scenes view of professional playing fields. Ryder and Mr. Starr are the best developed characters in the story, and that's all young sports enthusiasts will need to root for this unlikely team who defy defeat and keep on trying no matter what the odds.—Anne Jung-Mathews, Plymouth State University, NH - Copyright 2014 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Booklist - 02/15/2015 In a tale that is tense and scary right up until its improbably happy ending, 12-year-old Ryder is suddenly left on his own when his mother lands in the ICU. Circumstances dictate he must contact the father he has never known. Fortunately, he gets both immediate and longer-term help from a compassionate New York City firefighter and an embittered ex-reporter immobilized with a degenerative disease. Unfortunately, his dad turns out to be a major league pitcher—with a wife and family. After his mom is given only days to live unless she has a very expensive operation, the pressure is on to find a way to come face-to-face with the man and then convince him to help. Green sends his painfully shy but courageous protagonist through realistically vicious emotional rapids as well as less realistic but suspenseful efforts to sneak into baseball clubhouses in both New York and Atlanta. Neither these ploys nor the eventual confrontation go well, but help comes just as all seems lost, and everyone’s fortunes—even those of the reporter and the firefighter—turn bright. Ryder’s fear and despair are sharply felt, and readers who prefer stories with uncomplicated resolutions will be pleased by the prolific Green’s latest outing. - Copyright 2015 Booklist.