The Distance to Home

240p. ebook available. Knopf. Jun. 2016. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781101938713; lib. ed. $19.99. ISBN 9781101938720. POP
Gr 4–6—A year after the death of her teenage sister, 11-year-old Quinnen is still grieving and adjusting to her new life as her parents' only child. Complicating matters is that at the time of Haley's death, Quinnen, in a fit of jealousy over her sister's boyfriend, does something hurtful. Before Haley's death, Quinnen had been the star pitcher of her Little League team, the Panthers, and an enthusiastic fan of the Tri-City Bandits, the local minor league farm team, but Quinnen can't bring herself to play baseball without her sister cheering from the stands. Quinnen's parents, in an effort to rekindle their daughter's love of baseball, agree to become a host family to one of the Bandits' minor league players, Brandon. It is through her friendship with Brandon and another player, Hector, that Quinnen finds the courage to get back on the diamond. In chapters that alternate between the summer Haley dies and the following summer, Bishop portrays a girl and her family in transition. Ultimately, it is Quinnen's love for the game of baseball that helps her to forgive herself and appreciate the bond she shared with Haley. Though the supporting characters are not nearly as well developed as Quinnen herself, readers will find themselves moved by the protagonist's journey toward "home."
VERDICT Recommend this poignant novel to fans of Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park and The Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin.

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