This book was a gem. It was beautifully written and, overall, the story lines were well drawn and intersected nicely. I would highly recommend this book to just about any baseball fan. Stilgenbauer's love of the game seeps into every page. Like any woman who has truly loved baseball since a young age, I faced many snickers from boys growing up. These sexist prejudices, while not dominant in the book, were carefully and thoughtfully added. While I would love to give this book 4 1/2 - 5 stars, I just cannot for a couple reasons. First, throughout the first half of the book it is very unclear if the main protaganist, Gioia Rinaldi, pitches softball or baseball. Stilgenbauer is not very clear on this front and found myself constantly wondering whether Rinaldi wanted a scholarship for softball and baseball. Similarly, the mechanics in pitching a softball versus a baseball are very different, so I had a difficult time buying into the premise that Rinaldi could be so dominant at each. I think it would have been more believable had Rinaldi been a phenomenal baseball pitcher and a softball center-fielder. That would be more plausible because those throwing mechanics are more similar and have a strong center-fielding arm would translate better to baseball. Second, one of the shorter story lines concerning Rinaldi's brother is cut short and I am left wondering why. That particular story-line is abruptly abandoned when I felt that it really could have been continually weaved into the overall story. Despite these, at times, frustrating drawbacks, the book was great and I was sad when it was over.
(reviewed 9 days after purchase)