Summary: One Last Shot by John David Anderson
One Last Shot follows 12-year-old Malcolm who has an anxious streak and never feels good enough, especially for his dad. It doesn’t help that his parents are always arguing, and Malcolm is typically caught in the middle. Malcolm’s father loves competitive sports (especially baseball) and is disappointed when Malcolm decides to stop playing because he isn’t good at it and does not enjoy it. But he finds some respite when Malcolm becomes interested in miniature golf — and actually enjoys it.
As usual, Malcolm’s father goes overboard, hiring a coach called Frank and signs Malcolm up for a tournament. The book alternates between the events of the tournament day and past events leading up to the tournament as Malcolm and Frank forge a sweet friendship, Malcolm befriends a smart girl named Lex, and his parents relationship deteriorates.
I always enjoy John David Anderson’s writing. He has a way of writing sweet, sensitive, funny male characters going through challenging life circumstances. Ms. Bixby’s Last Day is one of my favorite “boy books.” I could relate to Malcolm immediately — his anxiety, the voices in his head (he’s not mentally ill, just has a highly active imagination), and his desire to make things right for everyone.
Malcolm’s parents have a strained relationship and they argue frequently throughout the book, mostly because his father is terribly overbearing, verging on abusive. He pressures Malcolm into engaging in sports because of his love for sports, and yet isn’t satisfied by participation. He wants wins! Malcolm’s mother is frustrated and tired for most of the book. This is one of the stories that I liked because it isn’t preachy. It just reflects one family’s truth and how they try to work through the messy.
I really liked Frank and Lex and I was so grateful that Malcolm had both of them in his corner. Frankly, I don’t care much for sports or golf in particular, but Anderson’s writing makes it bearable and occasionally interesting. Finally, this book does have a satisfying ending, which is always a win.
Overall: One Last Shot by John David Anderson
One Last Shot by John David Anderson is a moving story of learning to listen to one’s inner voice. Like most of Anderson’s work, this book is a beautiful celebration of friendship and mentoring. It also highlights the impact of parental strife and separation on children as well as the effects pushy, overbearing parents can have on their kids, especially when they disregard their own emotions. I would definitely recommend this one to fans of sports books and those looking for books about divorce and separation.
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Have you read this book or any others by John David Anderson? What did you think? Any readalikes you would recommend? Which other boy books would you recommend?