The Fox Steals Home, by Matt Christopher ISBN 0316139866
Four out of five stars
While Christopher is one of the best writers of adolescent sports fiction, there are many times when his stories are formulaic and predictable. In this case the title informs you what the climactic event will be. Bobby is a boy whose parents just divorced. While there is no bitter animosity, there is an undercurrent of hostility to the point where Bobby worries that if his dad comes to his baseball games, he will be in violation of the custody agreement.
Therefore, the story revolves more about Bobby’s relationship with his parents and the people in their lives. He lives with his mother and she has her female friends with their shared interests. Bobby discovers that his father is seeing a widowed woman that is the mother of a player on another team. These circumstances make this a book more about Bobby the boy struggling over new circumstances than it is about baseball.
In the modern world, the message is a powerful one, namely that even if your personal circumstances are difficult, you need to concentrate on the important things in your life. This story is a bit different in that there is no grand moment at the end where Bobby’s life is made whole again, his father makes a major and unexpected announcement. The baseball action is very routine and predictable.