A Long Pitch Home
by Natalie Dias Lorenzi
September 6, 2016
Ten-year-old Bilal liked his life back home in Pakistan. He was a star on his cricket team. But when his father suddenly sends the family to live with their aunt and uncle in America, nothing is familiar. While Bilal tries to keep up with his cousin Jalaal by joining a baseball league and practicing his English, he wonders when his father will join the family in Virginia. Maybe if Bilal can prove himself on the pitcher’s mound, his father will make it to see him play. But playing baseball means navigating relationships with the guys, and with Jordan, the only girl on the team—the player no one but Bilal wants to be friends with.
When ten year old Bilal and his family leave Pakistan, he must adjust to the often confusing and hectic life of America. Making new friends, learning English, fitting in, and learning to like America is not easy for Bilal, especially when he misses his father, back in Pakistan, so much. Hoping to make his father proud and speed up his arrival, Bilal joins a local baseball team, but finds that baseball is not at all like his beloved cricket, especially when one of his teammates turns out to be a talented girl.
Natalie Dias Lorenzi’s A Long Pitch Home is a thoughtful and tender middle-grade story that deftly explores the immigration experience through the honest and observant eyes of a child. Bilal’s story is an important one, as it reflects the lives and experiences of so many young readers in America today. Lorenzi carefully and respectfully explores Bilal’s Pakistani culture and customs, creating an immersive and authentic reading experience. Young readers will enjoy Bilal’s unique perspective and learning about his culture, but they will also find many aspects of his life (family dynamics, wanting to fit in, friendship issues, etc) to be very relatable and relevant to their own lives.
Bilal, his family members, and Jordan (the one girl on his team) are all engaging, well-developed characters, that young readers will enjoy getting to know and find very likable.
My final thoughts: With a heartfelt message, excellent storytelling, and unforgettable main character, A Long Pitch Home will amuse, educate, and leave a mark.
Natalie Dias Lorenzi is a teacher, librarian, mother, wife and traveler. She has lived in seven US states, and in Germany, Italy and Japan, and traveled to more places than she can count (and she can count pretty high). Like Skye and Hiroshi, the main characters in her debut middle grade novel Flying the Dragon, Natalie knows what it's like to make a complete fool of herself in another language. That said, she highly recommends the technique of throwing yourself into a new language, even if you're not ready. Visit Natalie at www.nataliediaslorenzi.com (no passport required). Website / Facebook / Twitter