Lesbian Book Review: ‘Heart of the Game’ is a Win for Baseball Lovers

0In suburban New Jersey, the walls of my childhood home were lined with Yankee memorabilia—a charcoal portrait of Babe Ruth over here, a signed photo of Joe DiMaggio over there. Growing up, you could almost always hear Phil Rizzuto’s color commentary as the background to the soundtrack of warm summer evenings. I may have ended up marrying a Red Sox fan somehow, but the point is, I like baseball. A lot. So I was very excited to read Rachel Spangler’s novel Heart of the Game.

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(Mild spoilers below)

Heart of the Game centers around Sarah Duke, known simply as “Duke” to friends, family, and colleagues. She is a young sportswriter who has worked hard to earn respect as one of the few women in her field. Duke writes a popular blog about the St. Louis Cardinals, and baseball has been the most important thing in her life since she was just a little girl.

Duke’s world is shaken up when she meets Molly Grettano and her two sons, Joe and Charlie, at the ballpark one day. Duke and Joe, Molly’s older son, hit it off immediately, bonding over the Cardinals and the game they both love. A single mom, Molly is hesitant to open up her heart to anyone new, but, eventually, Duke wins her, and the whole family, over.

Their road is not an entirely smooth one: Molly has trouble getting past the fact that Duke is butch, because she had always pictured herself with someone very feminine. She also has some trust issues, largely due to her past relationship with the boys’ father. Meanwhile, Duke is attempting to juggle a very demanding job, that she is extremely passionate about, with all the challenges that come along with kids being in the picture. To be perfectly honest, I felt like Duke was way too good for Molly.

Baseball fans will appreciate the level of detail and obvious love for the game that clearly shines through in every chapter. However, I could’ve lived without some of the baseball-related metaphors. In fact, at one point, Molly even thinks, “Again with the damn sports clichés,” and it’s probably my favorite thing she does in the whole book.

One of the highlights of the novel, for me, came in the form of a relationship—but the relationship between Duke and Joe, not Duke and Molly. Joe is an absolutely adorable nine-year-old boy, and he latches onto Duke almost immediately. He looks up to and respects Duke, calling her the “best sportswriter ever.” Duke respects Joe just as much; she fosters his love of baseball and teaches him about life.

While I wasn’t 100% sold on the romance between Duke and Molly, fans of baseball and found families will likely enjoy this story.

Heart of the Game is available on Amazon.

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