By Julie Cross
Publisher: Entangled Teen
To Sum It Up: When Annie Lucas’s father accepts a job as pitching coach for the Kansas City Royals, they uproot from Arizona to Missouri. Not only does Annie find herself in a new city and a new school, but thanks to her dad’s new position, she’s in the frequent company of Royals rookie pitcher Jason Brody. Brody has the potential to be a pitching ace if he can overcome the bad reputation that’s followed him to the majors, one that will only be given credence if he and Annie get too involved.
Review: Whatever Life Throws at You falls outside of my typical reading fare as both a contemporary and a straight up romance, but it also has . . . BASEBALL. I love baseball! Lifelong New York Yankees fan here! Although the Yankees are referenced a couple of times in the novel, it’s the Kansas City Royals who are the featured team here. But still: BASEBALL!
I bought Whatever Life Throws at You almost a year ago, with the intention of reading it before the 2015 baseball season ended. That didn’t happen. We are, however, just in time for the start of the 2016 season! Even more coincidentally, the Royals are the current reigning World Series champs. So this turned out to be a pretty good moment to finally dust this off my Kindle shelf, coupled with just feeling like reading something different.
While we’re talking baseball, I’ll mention that you don’t need to know the ins and outs of the game to read this. The sweet, slow-burning relationship between protagonist Annie and Royals hotshot rookie pitcher Jason Brody is the book’s centerpiece. As a baseball fan, I really liked how the sport was worked into the novel, and I got very sentimental at one point when the Royals’ manager and close friend of Annie’s father reminisces about the Yankees’ 1995 season. It was a lovely trip back in time for me, too. I did think that a few elements of the game were stretched to suit the story, like Brody batting in a game against another team in the American League, which uses the designated hitter. I know I sound nitpicky and it probably won’t matter to most readers; I just happen to go full geek over things I’m passionate about, baseball being one of them.
I loved that Annie and Brody’s romance took its time reaching that point—not a whiff of insta-love to be found in this book. There’s also zero pressure from either side to take what begins as friendship to a level that the other isn’t comfortable with. The progression develops at a really wonderful pace; I’m quite impressed with how the romance was written.
Something that I wasn’t so keen on was the way Annie came across judgy at times. Brody’s reputation as a guy with a troubled past precedes him, but even after getting to know him better, Annie is still prone to jumping to the conclusion that Brody is living it up as a 19-year-old bachelor who’s just come into a sizeable payday. The book also feels a bit angsty when things start getting serious between Annie and Brody and both fear her father’s reaction if he finds out about them. I mean, I understand that every story needs a conflict and this is a significant one, especially since Annie is extremely close to her dad and he’s become a mentor to Brody, even outside of baseball. But, I don’t know, all the talk about how the long term wasn’t going to work out because Annie’s dad wouldn’t approve and the fact that Annie was still in high school while Brody was an adult got to me somewhat.
In the end, though, the truly irresistible romance made this an overall enjoyable read. And now please bear with me as I indulge in some bad baseball puns to close this review: the book as a whole is a solid triple; the romance between Annie and Brody: a bona fide grand slam homerun.
All in All: I probably wouldn’t have picked this up had it not been for the baseball, but I’m glad I did. I don’t think non-baseball fans needs to worry about being overwhelmed by the game’s lingo. Just sit back and enjoy watching the romance bloom.