BookPage Children's Top Pick, May 2015
In the time Before, Peter Lee and his older brother, Nelson, loved baseball. They played it, listened to it on the radio and cheered for both Taiwan and the United States in the 1972 Little League World Series. But now Peter lives in the After. With Nelson dead from a car accident, Peter’s mother does nothing but watch TV, his younger sister is increasingly frustrated and his father, Ba, has become more distant than ever.
All this changes when Ba volunteers to coach Peter’s Little League team. While Peter wonders how baseball can have meaning without his brother, he finds himself rethinking almost everything about the game, including his father’s knowledge and his relationships with his teammates. As games are won and lost, new friendships form and old ones are redefined. Larger issues loom in the background, including women’s struggle for equality and ongoing protests against the Vietnam War.
Author Wendy Wan-Long Shang established herself as a fresh voice in diverse middle grade fiction with her debut, The Great Wall of Lucy Wu. In The Way Home Looks Now, she uses her characteristically accessible language to tell a story that combines historical fiction, detailed sports scenes and the unique perspectives of a grieving Asian-American family. The book concludes with instructions on how to play the neighborhood pick-up games that Peter and his teammates use to practice their skills.
For a preteen who isn’t quite ready for Kwame Alexander’s Newbery Medal-winning The Crossover but wants a similar read, this exciting, poignant and ultimately redemptive baseball tale is the perfect choice.
Jill Ratzan teaches research rudiments in central New Jersey.