Stealing Bases by Keri Mikulski
Reformed mean girl Kylie Collins desperately wants to put the craziness of basketball season behind her. (And with it, her cheater ex, Zachary Murphy.) Maybe she'll finally be able to silence her snarky streak and concentrate on her lifelong dream - being recruited for Division One softball.
But when Kylie arrives at her first softball practice of the season, she comes face-to-face with her worst nightmare: Amber McDonald, the best pitcher in the state.
Now, Kylie's forced to warm the bench as Amber wows crowds again and again. With all the drama happening out on the softball diamond, Kylie finds herself drawn back to bad habits-sabotaging people and hanging out with a certain Zachary Murphy. . .
As I've mentioned before, I am not usually a big "sports" reader, but Keri Mikulski won me over with Head Games and Stealing Bases sealed the deal. I am definitely a fan of the Pretty Tough series!
Kylie was a returning character from Head Games, but this time around she was the narrator. Through Taylor's eyes in Head Games, Kylie had always seemed like a selfish and mean person, so I'm glad I got to know her side of the story in Stealing Bases. While it did take me a little while to warm up to Kylie, by the end of the book I did like her and felt for all she was going through. Kylie had a lot on her plate and her softball dreams are being shattered by the arrival of new star pitcher, Amber McDonald. I understood why Kylie was upset, she had always been the pitcher and now Amber had taken her spot, but at times she acted a little too immature. As I said before, going into this, I wasn't sure what I was going to think of Stealing Bases simply because I didn't like Kylie before. Getting to know her in this book did change my opinion of her though, and she really was trying to amend her mean ways. There were quite a few characters from the last book that reappeared in this one as well. Taylor even had a small role. I liked getting to see some of my favorite characters from Head Games, even when they only played a minor part in Kylie's story.
The plot of Stealing Bases was fresh and held my interest. I enjoyed learning about all the different plays in softball and how the team worked together. Kylie was faced with some tough choices during the course of the novel and learned a lot about both herself and those around her. Another character that was reintroduced in Stealing Bases was Zachary Murphy. He had an intriguing role in this book and Kylie had to make a decision about him once and for all. While Kylie put on a brave front, she was dealing with lot of issues back home. Her parents had recently divorced and she was living a family friend's pool house with her dad. I admired Kylie for staying strong during the ordeal and it made her a more realistic character.
Keri Mikulski always does a great job making her teenage characters realistic and believable, as well as all their experiences. I am a big fan of contemporary YA and Keri Mikulski does not disappoint. There were quite a few entertaining and important twists in the story that kept me reading and I enjoyed getting to know all the different characters and learn even more about softball. Stealing Bases isn't overly "sporty" either- it combines just the right amount of sports, romance, drama, and friendships. The girls even visit Pinkberry- I adore frozen yogurt!
All in all, Stealing Bases was an entertaining and realistic addition to the Pretty Tough series. Kylie was a character that had to grow on me, but in the end I did like her. Keri Mikulski has an eye for writing books that will appeal to a variety of readers and Stealing Bases is no exception. I'm eager for the release of Making Waves (coming in 2012)!
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
July 7, 2011/Razorbill/272 Pages/Young Adult/Book 5
Other books in the series: Head Games