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A timely and compelling story about a bullied and overweight boy and his love of baseball. "Tanker 10" opens in Brockton, MA, in 1976, where bashful and overweight 10-year-old Jimmy just wants to read his books and toss the ball with his best friend Ben. Unfortunately, Jimmy is an entertaining victim for his older brother Cliff and his buddies. When Jimmy tries to stand up to Cliff, the verbal abuse turns physical and an accident sends Jimmy to the hospital with an injury that changes the trajectory of his life. Tanker 10 depicts the story of Jimmy during his pre-teen and teenage years as he struggles to mend his physical and psychological injuries. Finding salvation through baseball, he dedicates himself to a strict regimen, taking him from intramurals baseball to Little League. By the time he reaches high school, Jimmy is no longer the fat kid throwing a ball against a wall but an up-and-coming right fielder on the freshman baseball team. Yet despite his successful recovery, Jimmy remains ill at ease with himself. He longs for emotional and physical intimacy and grapples with finding his place in his family, among his friends, and with his brother Cliff. I've been putting off this review all day long. NOT because I didn't like the book--I did. NOT because I don't think there's a group of students who could use it--because I do. It was hard for me to read. And not for the usual reasons. The writing is very good. The story itself is very good. In fact, the biggest negative I can give you is that I feel like the story just ended. I literally said "but what happened next??" at the end of the book. SPOILER AHEAD I feel the need to spoil part of the story because if I were a librarian considering this book, I'd rather not be blind-sided. SPOILER AHEAD--LAST CHANCE! Jimmy's injury (the day his brother's bullying goes too far) results in the loss of his testicles. At age 10. And yes, obviously, his life is significantly altered forever. And, like I said, I think I would need to know that, since the blurb (as all good blurbs should do) just teases you a bit. That being said, the way some things are handled made it difficult for me to read. Sadly (yes, sadly), I was prepared to be faced with some locker-room talk about girls and sex. There's not much in here. The discussions about sex were frank and blunt, and were the kind of frank and blunt conversations you'd expect a guy to have with his doctor. Not necessarily his dad, although in this case it's probably more likely. Jimmy was 10, then 12, then 16, then in college with very difficult questions about what his future would look like. A few sexual scenes were fairly detailed, but not graphic in a stomach turning way. I think this book was hard for me to read because it wasn't quite what I was expecting, and I wasn't expecting the more clinical feeling conversations. That was me and my experience. Still and all, I don't believe I'd hand this to just any of my boy readers. It's deep and emotional, to an extent. My 9th and 10th graders wouldn't stand a chance reading this, but mine are fairly immature. A reader needs to be fairly emotionally mature for this book.
What do you think??
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this ebook galley from JKSCommunications--Literary Publicity. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.