Review: Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages

Books Historical Fiction

Ellen Klages’ Out of Left Field is a story that tells the history of women and minorities in baseball, from the view of a 10-year-old girl who’s kicked out of Little League because of her gender. It needed just a little bit more space to really be a home run, though.

Out of Left Field CoverEvery boy in the neighborhood knows Katy Gordon is their best pitcher, even though she’s a girl. But when she tries out for Little League, it’s a whole different story. Girls are not eligible, period. It is a boy’s game and always has been. It’s not fair, and Katy’s going to fight back. Inspired by what she’s learning about civil rights in school, she sets out to prove that she’s not the only girl who plays baseball. With the help of friendly librarians and some tenacious research skills, Katy discovers the forgotten history of female ball players. Why does no one know about them? Where are they now? And how can one ten-year-old change people’s minds about what girls can do?

Set in 1957–the world of Sputnik and Leave It to Beaver, saddle shoes and “Heartbreak Hotel”–Out of Left Field is both a detailed picture of a fascinating historic period and a timelessly inspiring story about standing up for equality at any age. Goodreads

I received a physical ARC courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Out of Left Field tried to do a lot of things, and in the end it only kind of succeeded at most of them.

It does need some content warnings for time-period appropriate use of the words Negro and Oriental to describe people, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and discussion of Japanese internment.

Katy is a spunky little girl who refuses to let things keep her down, which is awesome. It made her a really nice main character. I loved that her family was entirely made of scientists, and that her friends were a major part of her journey.

I think that the journalistic aspect of this story was really interesting, and really brought the story back together.

Learning about all of the other female baseball players in Katy’s (and our) history was fascinating. It was a little unrealistic that all of these baseball players absolutely wanted to tell Katy their entire life stories, but it made for a great story so I’ll deal with it.

However, It does need some content warnings for time-period appropriate use of the words Negro and Oriental to describe people, gender discrimination, racial discrimination, and discussion of Japanese internment. These discussions are relevant and appropriate for the middle grade audience, in my opinion.

Overall, Out of Left Field was a good book for young sports players and fans of A League of Their Own alike. I think it just tried to cover a little too much for its 320 pages, which brings it down to a four star rating for me.

 

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ABOUT OUT OF LEFT FIELD

 

Title: Out of Left Field

Author: Ellen Klages

Publisher: Viking Books for Young Readers

Length: 320 Pages

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Rating: ★★★★ / Four stars

Genre: Historical Fiction

Representation: nonreligious Jewish MC and mother, religious Jewish side character, Black baseball players, Japanese side character

 

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