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Twelve-year-old Malcolm Greeley is never lonely when he’s alone. He has a cast of characters sharing space in his brain. Creative, imaginative, smart, and painfully shy, Malcolm’s interior life is where he feels safe, unlike his attempts at sports. After three years of trying to play baseball, it’s apparent that Malcolm did NOT inherit his father’s athletic ability. He knows that his father is disappointed in him and wonders if that is one reason his parents aren’t getting along. Then his dad takes him to play putt-putt. Malcolm enjoys the concept of planning your shot, measuring the angles, and gauging the velocity and he’s good at it. Malcolm beats his dad by ten strokes. Excited to see some athletic talent, his dad signs Malcolm up for a junior miniature golf tournament and hires Frank, an old high school buddy and ex-pro golfer, to be his coach. It’s hard to believe that Frank was ever a pro at anything with his dime store flip flops and pot belly, but Frank is exactly the coach that Malcolm needs. He not only teaches Malcolm putting, he teaches him how to gauge life. But no matter how good Malcolm gets at putt-putt, it doesn’t seem to be helping the tension at home. Anderson does an amazing job of telling this story in eighteen holes of miniature golf. Each chapter starts with Malcolm at the big tournament and then segues into the backstory that got him to that point. Until finally in the seventeenth and eighteenth hole, past and present come together for a surprising finish. Does Malcolm win? I can’t tell you that, but I can tell you that you’ll be the winner if you read this book. I highly recommend this humorous story of hope and holes-in-one, especially for the quiet kids who get picked last.
A troubled home, a parent who is desperately trying to relive some former glory through their child, anxiety, and middle school. What is Things That Don't Help A Kid Fit In for 500, Alex! Malcolm hates baseball, but he knows that keeping his dad happy is really important. If he's happy then he's less likely to fight with mom. So Malcolm plays baseball. At least he does until he finds another sport he actually likes. Mini Golf! Turns out Malcolm is really good at mini golf. His dad sees this too and hires a coach to get him ready for a junior mini golf tournament. Will Malcolm be ready for the tournament and will his parents' dustups keep getting worse? If only life were as simple as calculating the path of a tricky hole of mini golf! This is the sports book for kids who hate sports! I loved how Malcolm was every nerdy kid who was ever forced to daydream in left field to satisfy a sporty parent. His friendship with Lex, his rough but sage coach Frank, and even the complicated characters of his parents all felt like real people I know. I think kids from grades 4 and up will really love this novel. Hopefully mini golf courses nationwide will be bustling once the quarantine is lifted!
Reviewed in the United States on November 17, 2020
One Last Shot by John David Anderson is a moving story of learning to listen to one’s inner voice. Like most of Anderson’s work, this book is a beautiful celebration of friendship and mentoring. It also highlights the impact of parental strife and separation on children as well as the effects pushy, overbearing parents can have on their kids, especially when they disregard their own emotions. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of sports books and those looking for books about divorce and separation.