Before 2015 I read no baseball novels at all. This year I have read two of them. The first was The Lost Tribe which I reviewed here. It's different because it's alternate history and contains a paranormal element. Sophomore Campaign is different because it's the second book in a series that focuses on autistic pitcher, Mickey Tussler. I decided to purchase it on Amazon and review it for The Bookplex because I am interested in the portrayal of autistic characters.
I didn’t read the first book in this series, The Legend of Mickey Tussler. This means that I didn’t start with the background on the characters and their relationships, but I eventually got up to speed. So I’d say that this book can stand on its own.
I thought that Sophomore Campaign had a cover similar to The Lost Tribe. When I looked at them side by side, I realized that they were literally like night and day. The other novel’s cover showed a baseball on the field under a night sky. Sophomore Campaign also depicted the baseball on the field, but it was sunlit. I think that these covers reflect the atmosphere of each book. Setbacks occur in Sophomore Campaign and the concerns that the novel deals with are serious ones, but they seem surmountable.
The optimism of the viewpoint character, team manager Arthur Murphy, occasionally falters. Yet when his players are beset by prejudice, his support is rock solid. Murphy, known as Murph, is a likable character. He is forward looking while at the same time cherishing traditional values like loyalty and integrity.
Although author Frank Nappi mainly writes serviceable straightforward prose, sometimes his style really shines. There are occasional poetic passages that impressed me. I had to jot one of them down in my book journal because it was just outstanding.
I consider Sophomore Campaign an inspiring story that confronts racism boldly through baseball. This book shows how baseball mirrors the surrounding society. It reflects an American culture that is slowly beginning to change, and the courage it took to implement such a transformation.