Hardcover: 538 pages
Published: September 7, 2011
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
URL: www.facebook.com/TheArt of Fielding
At Westish College, a small school on the shore of Lake Michigan, baseball star Henry Skrimshander seems destined for big league stardom. But when a routine throw goes disastrously off course, the fates of five people are upended.
As the season counts down to its climatic final game, these five people are forced to confront their deepest hopes, anxieties and secrets. In the process, they forge new bonds, and help one another find their true paths.
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I finished The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, and immediately missed the characters. I suddenly felt sad that the story was over, I wanted so badly to “keep in touch” with Henry, Affenlight, Owen, Mike and Pella.
If you think this novel is all about baseball, then you are right. However, it is not about the game of baseball played on the Diamond for nine innings, but rather the game of baseball as it relates to life. Some games you hit home runs, some games you strike out, and in some games you sacrifice yourself for the other members of your team.
Harbach writes a novel that is about so much that it is difficult to distinguish this novel into specific categories. The Art of Fielding is about relationships; sexual, familial and friendship. It is about losing one’s self and the attempts to find who we are and where we belong. There are no answers to life’s many questions in this novel, but instead genuine heartfelt reactions to everything life throws at us.
Henry and Mike become best friends while playing on the Westish College Baseball team, but by the end of the novel, Henry must ask himself if he is too reliant on Mike. Has he been working four years trying to please Mike and forgetting to please himself? Guert Affenlight, the President of Westish College finds himself falling for one of the students, a male student by the name of Owen. Affenlight must decide whether this is a silly lustful fling, or if he actually has honest romantic feelings for Owen. Pella has run away from a marriage, and finds herself struggling to regain a relationship with her father while wondering where it all went wrong and how to fix it.
The lives of the characters are uniquely woven together, and the choices they make will ultimately decide an ending for one another. Whether you are a fan of baseball, or a rookie to the game, you will appreciate the wonderfully written story Harbach tells in The Art of Fielding: A Novel