The Catch by Alison Fairbrother Isn't About Baseball!
The Catch by Alison Fairbrother
Genre: General Fiction
Publish date June 21, 2022, 288 pages
Though the blurb talks about this special baseball as being the key to the story, you would be forgiven for assuming the story revolves around baseball.
IF NOT BASEBALL, WHAT IS THE STORY ABOUT?
The Catch is NOT about baseball - it's about blended family dynamics, love and hurt, death and grief, always striving for a parent's love, and growing up. It's a story of the uncertainty of love - both parental and romantic - of loss, betrayal, and disappointment.
Ellie's dad was married three times and she is the daughter of his first wife so has spent most of her life striving for her dad's attention and love. When dad dies suddenly, she feels adrift. Then, when Ellie isn't given the family heirloom she expects (a baseball that represents all the good memories with her dad), she tries to find the person the ball was left to which takes her on a roundabout journey through her dad's past. A past that is filled with surprises for her and her image of her dad begins to tarnish and she wonders over and over if he ever loved her. These feelings/confusion certainly bleed over into her adult personal life as she's dating an older married man which is fraught with its own emotional baggage.
Even though I came to dislike the dad, I thought the book was pretty realistic in exploring the way a child from a blended family might feel and need lots of assurance of love from a parent. I also understood her need to figure out her dad's life and all the angst it would bring into her life. There were a few times I felt like I was being beat over the head with the "didn't he ever love me" thoughts, but not so much that it made me dislike the book.
As I skimmed other reviews for this book I noticed a few complaining about Ellie's relationship with a married man. I wouldn't normally think of that as a triggering event, and again, I feel like it's a realistic situation that young women find themselves in. That relationship wasn't the driving force behind the story, nor was it explicit, but I feel like it showed another aspect of Ellie's personality. I feel like the ending is appropriate for the story.