Monday, November 12, 2018

Review: "Out of Left Field" by Kris Hui Lee

There’s no playing it safe in love or baseball in this sparkling debut, perfect for fans of Morgan Matson and Kasie West. Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball. An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the mound. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side. With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?

Many thanks to Sourcebooks Fire via Netgalley for the free review of this book in exchange for my honest opinion.
This was such a cute book! If you like your contemporary YA on the sweet and light side, with a fun cast of characters and an underdog MC, "Out of Left Field" is a great choice for you.

So here are a few of the things that stood out for me with this book:
  • I really liked how Marnie and her friend Sara hung out with the boys and weren't super girly. It reminded me of the group of guys I hung out with in high school - we had so much fun! We were always going swimming or cliff jumping at a lake, or 4x4ing through the mud, or rock climbing without any gear (stupid, yes, but it was the 90's and we didn't know any better!) Even going to Subway or the movies was an adventure with those guys, and reading "Out of Left Field" brought out some of that nostalgia.
  • I liked that Colby and the baseball coach had Marnie's back, even when her teammates didn't accept her and she doubted herself and her abilities.
  • There were some good platonic relationships represented here, which I haven't seen often in YA contemporary romance novels. I especially enjoyed the developing friendship between Marnie and one of her biggest rivals!
  • I also appreciated the relationships Marnie had with the members of her family. There were a few warm and fuzzy moments between Marnie and her mom, for example, that did their job tugging on my heartstrings.
How about the things I didn't love?

  • The romance was kind of...meh. I usually love the best-friends-to-more trope, but in this case, the first 10 or 11 years of Marnie and Colby's friendship happened off-page, so there was none of that usual slow burn development I love. Basically, Marnie tells us in Chapter One that she and Colby have been best friends for x number of years, but we're not given much from those years. Maybe a couple of anecdotes here and there, but as far as show and tell, this book was very skewed towards telling with minimal showing. 
  • I thought the coach's language could have been toned down a bit. I thought his use of profanity was unwarranted and unprofessional. I know I sound like a total mom here, but honestly, if a coach was speaking like that around my kids, he wouldn't be coaching much longer, if you know what I mean.
Overall, I enjoyed my time with "Out of Left Field". For a debut, it was really well done, and I think that Kris Hui Lee is a name to watch for in the future of Contemporary YA. 

My rating: 3 stars

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