cover image Farm Team

Farm Team

Will Weaver / Author HarperCollins Publishers $14.95 (283p) IS

Weaver (Striking Out) combines wickedly sharp wit with a love of baseball and intimate knowledge of farm life to yield an emotionally satisfying tale. With a classic triumph-of-the-underdogs theme, simplistic resolution (all anyone needs to iron out his problems, it seems, is to play a little baseball) and cinematic climax, Weaver seems to be writing with Hollywood in mind-Lake Wobegon meets Field of Dreams. But the story is peopled with such acutely observed characters and, after its foreboding opening, infused with such joyous optimism that its well-worn ground poses few problems. In northern Minnesota, Billy Baggs, 14, has to forgo playing baseball to work the family dairy farm after his father, Abner, lands in jail. Determined to have fun despite-or rather because of-grim Abner's absence, mother Mavis circulates flyers inviting one and all to Friday night baseball, to be played on the diamond she and Billy make in a cow pasture. Almost magically the game unites the locals and raises their self-esteem, from migrant Mexican farmworkers to a slatternly teenage mother to Billy himself. In a good old-fashioned ending, our hero bests his nemesis (the town team's star player), earns Abner's grudging respect and wins the admiration of the girl who makes his heart sing. Ages 12-up. (June)