Don’t Call Him BIGGIE–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a YA book from debut author Derek E Sullivan. BIGGIE isn’t really a romance, though there’s some romance to it. It’s more-or-less an emotional awakening for a boy who shut out his world, and I really enjoyed it.

BiggieAbout the book:
Henry “Biggie” Abbott is the son of one of Finch, Iowa ‘s most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second.

At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. “Forty percent, that’s an F in any class,” he would say.

As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try. What happens when a boy who has spent his life since fourth grade trying to remain invisible is suddenly thrust into the harsh glare of the high school spotlight?

My Review:
Biggie is a book about loving one’s self, even when it’s far easier to hate one’s self.

Henry “Biggie” Abbott is a high school junior in Finch, Iowa–a town of roughly 1000. He is the illegitimate son of baseball phenom Aaron Abbott, conceived while Aaron was still in high school. Aaron left behind his sweetheart and child, legally disavowing any claim to Biggie before he’d even turned 1. Biggie is, well, BIG. He’s over 6 feet tall, and weighs more than 300 pounds.

Here’s why:

How did I get this way? Or a better question: why have I let myself grow to over 300 pounds? Simply put: Now I’m invisible. Funny isn’t it? The more I weigh, the less people ride me about it.

See, growing up as Abbott’s son, even disavowed, wasn’t that great. Everyone expected Biggie to be a great athlete, and he has an excruciating fear of failure. He is a self-proclaimed perfectionist, and a perfect GPA. Especially since he forges notes to keep out of gym class. But, this year, his mother has thwarted those plans. Biggie is going to take gym, even if it kills him. Of course the first day, Biggie does something extraordinary. He throws a perfect game in Whiffleball. Then, he promptly faints. His doctor isn’t pleased, and Biggie’s physical sends his mother into tears–Biggie, too, as he’s possibly suffering Type 2 Diabetes.

The only answer is for Biggie to get fit–and his half-brother, Maddux, is keen to work with Biggie on his pitching, maybe turn his instinctive knuckleball into an unhittable pitch. Maddux and his father, Laser, have been on the baseball circuit forever. Laser was semi-pro and took Maddux on the road with him. But Laser has decided to hang up his cleats and coach the Finch high school team, so he’s home to witness, and assist, Biggie’s transformation from bedroom-bound shut-in to baseball player.

Biggie’s reasons for the transformation: to catch the eye of Annabelle Rivers, a girl in Finch he has cyberstalked for years. To please Maddux. To make himself healthy enough that his mother stops thinking he’s going to die. To throw a perfect game.

It’s an interesting transformation because this is not only physical work, Biggie has to overcome his crippling shyness and grow out of his father’s famous shadow. It’s a small town, and here baseball reigns supreme. Biggie starts slowly, changing his diet and walking daily with Laser, until he can begin running daily and practicing. Laser is patient, and persistent, guiding Biggie in the physical steps–which I loved. That man never let Biggie down, even when Biggie couldn’t get past his own self-hate.

Biggie drops the weight, which puts him out of the danger zone for diabetes, but, when it comes to baseball, Biggie can’t bring himself to play. His team needs him, yet Biggie is so steeped in “perfection” that he’s too afraid to not be perfect on the field. It’s an impossible scenario that this kid could miraculously be the best player ever, on account of him not playing baseball, ever. And Biggie recognizes this, and he loses faith. Plus, he’s aggravated by personal issues with teammates–especially the cheating baseball star dating Annabelle.

Thing is, Biggie has talent. It’s raw and it’s powerful, but it isn’t perfect. And when Biggie begins to love himself, and consider that “perfect” isn’t necessarily the healthiest frame of mind, he actually starts to have an almost-perfect life.

I really enjoyed this. Biggie felt very real to me. He is an honest character, which is funny since he lies to everyone but the reader. He owns his issues, and gains real insight to a building a better life, with friends and even a girlfriend. A real one, not the cyber-girls he juggles online. His relationship with his parents improves, and I think that he ends this journey far happier than how he started. I had a little issue with the timeline–only because it seems that Iowa high schools begin baseball season when every other state is wrapping up theirs. So, that didn’t quite ring true. The interactions with the boys, however, was spot on–even if getting trashed and driving the backroads is not excellent, this is very likely how these rural boys passed their time.

Interested? You can find BIGGIE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and other book retailers.

dereksullivan300x450About the Author:
Derek E. Sullivan is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota. As a reporter, he has written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers, which he attributes to helping him find his YA voice. He has an MFA from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with his wife and three sons.

You can find Derek online on his website, Goodreads and twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

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