Painting the Game by Patricia MacLachlan

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Painting the Game by Patricia MacLachlan (Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2024) is the last novel by the late great MacLachlan, who wrote my childhood favorite Sarah, Plain and Tall. In a similar understated tone, this short novel tells about a young girl, Lucy, who wants to prove her own baseball abilities as a pitcher, so she spends her summer time waking up early to practice her pitching, eager to surprise her minor-league pitcher father with her improvement. Her father is an expert at pitching the knuckleball, so Lucy is determined to follow in his footsteps and learn to do so too.

The title is related to the talents of Lucy’s mother, who is a painter. The paintings her mother creates highlight the unique perspective of the game, such as a view up to the mound from the grass. Lucy’s unique perspective as the child of a baseball player helps her see the big picture of baseball and ultimately gives her the confidence to show her dad her abilities.

Painting the Game is a subtle book. There is not much action and no antagonist other than self-confidence. I didn’t find Lucy’s struggle to improve in baseball a strong enough tension for carrying a story, even as the ending scene gave a satisfying climax and resolution. I also wish titular concept of “painting the game” was more clear. While it is a book that baseball players and fans may enjoy, Painting the Game was not a stand-out novel for me.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advance review copy of this book provided by the publisher via NetGalley. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Reviewed on May 24, 2024

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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