Alexandra "Alex" Kirtridge is on the ball, literally as a superior player on a boys' baseball team, and emotionally as a 16-year-old with plenty of self-awareness. She and her brother, Jason, are under huge pressure from their dad, a former pro player who coaches the stellar team they play on.
Alex fully understands how, to her dad, baseball stats were "three numbers that managed to be us," because she shares the devotion to the sport that defines father and daughter in so many ways.
While Alex is such a reflection of her dad that she's sometimes called Little Kirtridge, she doesn't mirror him or her family in one regard: They don't share the same skin color. Alex has always known that she is the mixed-race adoptive daughter of a white couple who assert "we don't even see color." But while her parents are colorblind, schoolmates and others often make it abundantly clear that they are not.
Then, falling in love with a black teen and meeting his family make Alex realize keenly how "white" she is in speech and manner. Only Alex's wise younger sister, Kit, intuits how this can make Alex feel off the wall. When Alex reads old letters from her black biological father, the question of becoming comfortable in her own skin takes on new urgency.
Herself a person of color adopted by white parents, Minneapolis author Shannon Gibney shows readers what it means to straddle the color line — and what it takes simply to be one's true self. By endowing Alex with an emotional IQ that ultimately bests the baseball stats, Gibney hits this one out of the park.
Rosemary Herbert is a longtime literary critic and former children's and youth librarian.