Playing the Field
Pub. Date: February 2006
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing
Format: Hardcover, 192 pages
Reading Level: Young Adult
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All Darcy wants is to play on the baseball team, to hear her name announced, “Now batting, Darcy Miller,” to play the field. Is that so much to ask? Unfortunately, it might be. In a few short months, Darcy Miller goes from typical senior in high school to candidate for Jerry Springer. Her mom has started dating Darcy’s principal, the very principal whose son Darcy happened to have started a huge flirt-fest with, now brought to a screeching halt. When she decides to let her mom go to bat (so to speak) for her to play on the baseball team, Darcy thinks things are starting to look up. After all, Principal Basset caves and decides to let her play. But he has two conditions that shake up her entire game: She must pretend to be a lesbian (WHAT?) and she must join the GSA, the Gay-Straight Alliance (WHAT? WHAT?), the president of which happens to be her best friend — make that her ex-best friend, Josh. Okay, Darcy’s senior year might seem complicated at first. It’s not. It’s insurmountably, unforgettably, and — most of the time — hilariously complicated.
But if anyone can handle it, it’s Darcy. She’ll do anything just to play the field.
National Book Award winner for Godless – Pete Hautman
“Insightful, provocative, and laugh-out-loud funny. . . . An inside-out look at high school sports.”
Darcy Miller wants to play baseball, but her high school principal says she can’t because she’s a girl. But when Principal Bassett thinks that Darcy’s a lesbian, he changes his mind. His reasoning? Not allowing her to play would bring controversy to the school. So Darcy pretends to be gay to play. The book has some problems: the characters are all wealthy, which could alienate readers, and the only openly gay character is stereotypically so, propagating stereotypes instead of breaking them. Despite this, the novel describes what it means to be gay in an American high school, while also educating on the issue. This novel is solidly written and approaches a sensitive topic well. It is full of high school drama and humorous descriptions, which really pull the plot along.
Sharon Salluzzo – Children’s Literature
More than anything Darcy wants to play on the boys’ high school baseball team. She gets her chance when Brandon, the principal’s son on whom she has a huge crush, tells his dad that Darcy is a lesbian. The principal tells the baseball coach that he will have a new player. Darcy’s gay friend Josh flips out when he hears that she is willing to let the principal believe this lie. By the way, he also has a crush on Brandon. Telling her this is not a matter to be taken lightly; Josh threatens to expose her if she and Brandon join the Gay-Straight Alliance. Meanwhile Darcy wins a spot as a pitcher and replaces Brandon as the shortstop. To make matters more complicated, Darcy’s mother is dating the principal. Amidst these circuitous and complicated relationships Bildner presents a great deal of information about gays and lesbians. And why is it assumed that a teenage girl who wants to play sports with the guys is a lesbian? Interestingly it is left open-ended as to whether Brandon is gay. Some schools will need to be aware that the “b” word (it rhymes with witch) is used here. References to the sit-com “Friends” may date it. Humor permeates this book: the way the author sets up situations and Darcy’s reactions. This light touch makes the book highly accessible, fun to read, and perfect for discussing how we judge and label people. 2006, Simon & Schuster, Ages 14 up.