Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan
Published by: Albert Whitman & Company
Publication date: March 1st 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Henry “Biggie” Abbott is the son of one of Finch, Iowa ‘s most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. “Forty percent, that’s an F in any class,” he would say. As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try. What happens when a boy who has spent his life since fourth grade trying to remain invisible is suddenly thrust into the harsh glare of the high school spotlight?
I signed up to be a part of this book tour because I was an obese teen in high school. While nowhere near as tall as Biggie, and therefore not weighing as much, I remember how terrible gym class was. I can still clearly feel the terror that was having to play volleyball and having everybody laugh at you. Sullivan did an excellent job of capturing this emotion, even though Biggie tried his best to hide how he felt.
I also enjoyed reading about how Biggie had his big plan to win the game, get the girl and be awesome. Of course it didn’t go as he hoped, but the entire plan was exactly like how we think as teenagers. Once again, I admire the author’s ability to capture these types of emotion in words on a page.
After reading this book, I discovered that the author had originally written it as a short story but was urged to continue on. I am glad he did so but I can see how the piece that began as the short story would have stood by itself. I don’t know if it was published or not in that form but I think it would be a good piece to discuss in high school literature courses. I also feel that the book would be a way to open up a discussion about bullying, regarding how Biggie is treated by his classmates.
Derek E. Sullivan is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota. As a reporter, he has written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers, which he attributes to helping him find his YA voice. He has an MFA from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with his wife and three sons.
Tour-wide giveaway (INTL)
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