Author: Mike Lupica
Awards: He has won many author awards; none for this book as of yet
Rating: 5/5 stars
This book is a modern day, sporty, action-packed, adventurous fiction that is filled with the suspense of a talented tween fighting to become a star against all odds. Most of the book takes place in The Bronx, New York during the early 2000’s. Throughout the book, the main character, Michael Arroyo, is teased because of his race and his homeland. MIchael is a 12 year old boy, born and raised in Cuba for the first seven years of his life, but who now lives in New York. He is a baseball phenom and is known throughout The Bronx as the kid with the dream of making it to the Little League World Series. Michael is confronted with numerous challenges, including abandonment, death, and opposition, that try to get in the way of his dream becoming a reality. Throughout the story, Michael develops a strong relationship with a girl named Ellie, who he is later surprised to learn has a close connection to the sport he loves the most.
Just months after Michael moves to New York, his father, Papi, dies of a sudden heart attack. Michael is left to be cared for by his 17 year-old brother Carlos, who is not yet old enough to officially serve as his legal guardian. Papi’s death has a major impact on Michael and his future in baseball. Michael and Carlos must fend for themselves and keep the death of their father a secret, in order to avoid being sent to foster care or back to Cuba. Michael’s pitching is outstanding and teams begin to question his age, assuming that is the only explanation for his exceptional baseball skills. With no parents to vouch for him and unable to produce a birth certificate, Michael’s hopes of playing in the Little League World Series become grim. He is faced with the threat of being removed from the league. The climax of the book is when Ellie’s father is revealed and Michael learns that her father holds the key to his baseball future. This discovery is a turning point in the story. Soon after, Michael finds himself facing his biggest test yet, in an epic showdown against his team’s rival, the Giants, which comes down to the last pitch in a playoff game. The theme of the book “Heat” is to never give up, even when times are rough and the challenges seem overwhelming. Michael has to overcome the adversity of losing both a mother and a father. Just when he thinks things can’t get worse, Michael’s age is challenged and he is not able to do the one thing that he loves the most, play baseball. However, he never stops believing in his dream.
I like how the author told the story of a boy who made something out of nothing. Michael is one of the strongest and most courageous characters that I’ve ever met. This book taught me to never give up and that anything is possible when you work hard and dream big. Additionally, I could relate to Michael on many levels. Both he and I had dreams of going to the Little League World Series, and we were both scouted by many teams. I think any middle schooler between the ages of eleven and fourteen would be able to relate to and enjoy this book. I also think that adults can learn a lot from Michael about overcoming challenges and persevering. This book teaches a great life lesson, and therefore, would be a great choice for anyone that has or will face a major obstacle in their life. I would give this book a 5 star review because I was able to relate so much with Michael and I enjoy reading about sports.
Contributed by: Mason Player