Summary: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!
Vivy Cohen is an autistic, baseball-obsessed girl who really wants to play the sport. Unfortunately, her mom is holding back because she’s a girl and she has autism. But when Vivy writes to a famous Black baseball player as part of her social skills homework, things start to change. For one, VJ Capello writes back, and the two become pen pals. Then, a Little League coach asks Vivy to join his team. As they overcome unique hurdles, Vivy and VJ soon realize that they’ll need to put up a fight for the sport they love.
This is a really interesting slice-of-life story written in epistolary format. Vivy is a sweet but bold protagonist who is quite sure of herself and loves baseball. While she loves her family, she also has normal disagreements with her older brother, who is recently unusually distant. Her mom is overprotective and views Vivy as needing extra protection because she’s autistic, while her dad isn’t outspoken enough to balance her mom out.
Vivy and VJ have an appropriate pen pal friendship, and he provides insight into his experience as a Black baseball player in America, while Vivy shares her struggles as the only girl on her Little League team. Both stories feel truly parallel as the author shows how much discrimination still exists in sports. One of the boys on Vivy’s team bullies her, frequently calling her names because she’s autistic. Thankfully, she also finds a friend in Alex, another boy on her team.
Two other main themes in this book are Jewish culture and religion and autistic representation. The author is autistic and does a great job showing readers Vivy’s experience as a person with autism and all the ways she tries to cope, especially when things don’t go as she’s planned on the pitch. Vivy is 11 going on 12 and looking forward to her Bat Mitzvah.
Overall: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!
Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! is an endearing middle grade book about the love of baseball, life with autism, and figuring out your strengths. With many fast-paced baseball scenes, a spunky female protagonist, and heartwarming friendships all around, this is a charming story for tweens and adults alike.
Here are some specifics to know about the content.
- Language: None
- Alcohol/substance abuse: None
- Sexual content: None
- Ethnic: Vivy and her family are Jewish, Alex is Latino, VJ Capello is Black, and other characters are cued white
- Sexual orientation: One character comes out as gay to his accepting parents
Recommended for ages: 9+
Good for kids who like:
- Baseball books
- Books with strong female protagonists
- Three Strike Summer by Skyler Schremp
- Epistolary novels
- Good Different by Meg Eden Kuyatt
- Books with autistic protagonists
“Dear Vivy Cohen (& Sarah Kapit), I’m deeply grateful to you for sharing your story. The contagious enthusiasm in your story resonated with me, and your unwavering self-advocacy inspired me. Vivy, your boldness and passion reminded me of how writing helps me express and be understood. I was rooting for you as you bravely confronted discrimination and microaggressions stemming from your place on the spectrum. Your journey beautifully exemplifies embracing neurodiversity. Your heartfelt connection with VJ Capello underscores unexpected kindness and empathy. Thank you for a story that emphasizes the importance of celebrating uniqueness and being yourself. Love, Amino.”— Amino, age 9
|Publisher details||Dial Books|
|Publication date:||February 25, 2020|
|Page count:||352 pages|
|Cover artists | Designer:|