*I received a free copy of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Recipient of the B.R.A.G. Medallion
Blurb: Forget making history. Forget the people who think women don’t belong in baseball. It’s the early 1980s, and as one of the first female umpires in the minors, Margie just wants to put on her gear and be part of the game she loves.
When she suspects a big-name slugger of cheating—and wonders why nobody else is calling him on it—she’s square on the horns of an ethical dilemma.
If she lets him get away with his dirty tactics, she’ll hate herself for it. But blowing the whistle on a popular player could risk her career…and maybe her twin brother’s major-league prospects, too. In a baseball establishment looking to show the world that a woman can’t hack it on the field, can Margie keep her integrity—and her job?
The Call and knowledge and love of the game is on every page of the story.
The tale of Margie taking on the male umpiring establishment is told in a low-key undramatic style that is reflected in the characters and their actions. Of course there is conflict and tension in the plot, but Margie and her family face every ball pitched at them with a stoicism and determination that feels authentic; as if Laurie Boris is writing a memoir instead of fiction.
The simple, direct dialogue choices, baseball terminology and food descriptions all combine to give the novel a good old hometown American atmosphere; you can almost smell the hush puppies and grits.
I did find that the third-person narrative and Margie’s contained personality prohibited a feeling of intimacy with the story, and so whilst I was interested in the outcome I didn’t feel overly emotionally invested in the fate of the characters. For example, a critical point in the plot is introduced via a secondary character watching it on video, rather than from Margie’s point of view. This made the events more shocking to the reader, increasing the plot tension, but also created an arm’s-length reaction, whereas had we seen the events directly via Margie the emotional impact might have been stronger instead.
This does not detract from the storytelling at all, in fact it all adds to that flavour of peeking into the lives of reserved private individuals whose defining public persona is their love of the sport they live for.
I would definitely recommend The Call to any baseball fans, feminists, and anyone fond of a good, realistic family/sports story.
Bill cut a glance at her, took his time answering. “Heck, I could always use a sharp kid. But I’m wondering if you’re selling yourself short.”
Margie puzzled over what that meant. He motioned her closer. “You love baseball. Anyone who talks to you for five minutes can see how much you love it. You know the rules. You’ve got a good eye…”
“And…what? I’m a girl. They’re never gonna let me play.” But if they won’t let me play… “It would be pretty sweet to be a coach. You’d have to have some kind of baseball experience first. Like you, right?”
He tapped a finger against the table. “Or. You could become an umpire.”
– Laurie Boris, The Call
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