A review by phee
The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach

dark emotional hopeful reflective
  • Plot- or character-driven? Character
  • Strong character development? Yes
  • Loveable characters? Yes
  • Diverse cast of characters? Yes
  • Flaws of characters a main focus? Yes


Reread Jan 2020. Still loved this, definitely a favourite book of all time for me. 
We live by the Skrimmer, we die by the Skrimmer. 

I absolutely adored this novel!

I read the tag line for the book and knew it would be up my alley. Then I found out that it was about baseball and I got a little apprehensive. I'm not a sporty person in the slightest. I never had an aptitude for sports and so have never taken an interest in them. Then there's the small matter of I have no clue about baseball. I live in England and we don't really have baseball over here. The closest thing that comes to mind is rounders. So needless to say I was prepared to not enjoy it as much as I thought. 

Now that I've finished the book and loved it I can honestly say there is no reason to be put off by the baseball aspect of the book. As a complete noob I found that I understood the game easily enough and followed the games quite well. I had to Google a couple of the field positions but apart from that I could imagine everything in great detail. I actually wouldn't mind watching a game at some point as I found it interesting. I'm so happy that I took the plunge and read it despite its sporty nature.

Though you spend a lot of the book on the field the book isn't necessarily all about baseball. Baseball is a what connects these characters together. It's something that binds them but not all the characters play. Out of our main 5 characters 3 of them are on the team. The other 2 are connected in a different way. I loved every one of the characters and felt all their pain and struggles. It was pretty sad in parts and though I didn't cry, I felt a great loss when I turned the final pages. It was over and I don't think I was ready for it to be. 

I will say that this book deals with some pretty heavy stuff. It may also be triggering for people that suffer with eating disorders or find that topic hard to read about. Mental health is explored in detail. And there is drug use too and addiction is also a theme. It's a book about life and all the ups and downs. Especially the downs. It's a book about baseball, but also so much more. 

These are the sort of books that I love. They are often brutal and grueling to read but by the end you've been somewhere. You've explored something. The book takes you on a journey. Its why I love to read. I also really appreciate it when an author lays it out on a platter, warts and all. He didn't sugar coat anything and make certain things trivial. Most of the characters have a really hard time at some point during the book. Life isn't always good, in fact it's shit most of the time. I'll be thinking of Skrim and Co for a long time. I think this will turn out to be a favourite as well but I want some time to think on it. I'd highly recommend it though. If you like the sound of it then please give it a try. I think people will be pleasantly surprised by what they can gain from this novel. I haven't even come close to putting my thoughts into words. I struggle when I write reviews these days. But I don't give a book 5 stars very easily or often anymore. It has to be something very special. This is definitely something special.

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