Out Of Left Field by Kris Hui Lee
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: May 1, 2018
Summary: Marnie has never had a hard time fitting in with the guys. It would take a lot more than their goofy antics to keep her from joining them at the neighborhood sandlot to do what she loves best: play ball.
An added perk of hanging out at the sandlot? Spending time with Cody Kinski, their high school’s star pitcher and Marnie’s best friend. Sure, he can be stubborn and annoying. He also knows how to make her laugh and respects her skills on the mound. And when he gets nailed in the arm by a bone-fracturing pitch, Marnie becomes the team’s best chance at making it to the playoffs. Except no one told the guys they’re supposed to be on her side.
With her own team against her, Marnie begins questioning her abilities. And when fate throws her a curveball, can she play without losing the game, Cody, and her belief in herself?
*Requested an ARC from the publisher*
My Thoughts: Out Of Left Field is a fun, character-driven YA Contemporary! Lee’s debut focuses on friendship and its complex dynamics, while also delivering a unique plot! Also perfect for readers looking for more sports in YA Contemporary!
I’ve found, for me personally, that its easy for YA Contemporary to follow similar plots and fall into this cycle of familiar tropes, plot points, etc.
Out Of Left Field however, really moves away from that and overall, delivers a unique and unexpected story that really had me surprised with each turn of the page!
This novel follows Marnie Locke, an avid player + lover of all things baseball! But, when her best friend Cody Kinski (who may be something more…) gets injured during a game from a rival baseball team player, Santino Acardi, he volunteers Marnie to take his place on the school baseball team.
Now, Marnie has to prove to herself and the guys on the team that she’s ready to show the world what she’s made of and follow her dreams!
Aside from that, she has to juggle the changing dynamics with friends, and come to terms with the possible feelings she may have with Cody!
If your looking for contemporary perfect for summer, this is the book for you!
From her time on the guy’s baseball team, her complex friendship with Cody, and some surprises that come her way, its an entertaining read that really goes in unique directions that makes it stand out from other YA Contemporary novels!
Lee’s writing-style really delivers such a fun atmosphere to this novel, that really makes this novel ! Additionally, through the 1st person POV, Marnie is developed with each and every page, that her feisty personality really shines through!
What is also so great about Out Of Left Field (which I personally haven’t seen any reviews mention!) is the representation in this novel as well! (However its mainly seen through the prominent side characters!)
There’s Marnie’s best friend Sara, who is Filipino and Hispanic, and bisexual (which is explicitly stated in the text!). Then there’s Neha, who is Indian (Acardi’s girlfriend)
Marnie gets herself into a bit of a tricky situation when Acardi, Cody’s rival, actually ends up becoming her cousin! (Acardi’s mom ends up marrying Marnie’s uncle!)
So, when Marnie learns that Acardi isn’t all that bad & he even helps her with her baseball when she gets on the guy’s team, she finds herself keeping the secret from Cody for fear that he may get upset + even feels she’s betraying him.
I loved how Santino + Marnie’s dynamic developed, he quickly becomes such a supportive friend/family member to her. I found the quick pace of their development really added more depth to the story as they rely on each other & he offers her advice!
Similarly to what I mentioned above about the unique direction of the novel, this plot point was on of them! Lee’s unexpected plot direction and overall unique execution of her story made Out Of Left Field such a memorable read for me!
The way she delivers her prose just has you so in Marnie’s head and you really get to understand her as a character, that it makes the unfolding of the plot all the more interesting + surprising!
Marnie is a feisty, confident character and I loved that about her! Additionally, Lee’s portrayal of all the teenage characters in this novel felt so raw and real! They have their drama, goals, convos about romance, and so much more, Lee just made them come to life on the page!
An interesting aspect to this novel that I loved, was the look at changes/growth after high school, as Sara + Cody discuss their futures with Marnie at points throughout the story!
Cody star player, consider’s quitting baseball after high school! This honestly was another one of those surprising moments, but was just so brilliantly delivered that it just leaves you thinking and even understanding!
As a college student, this aspect in particular was just so refreshing to read about in YA Contemporary because while it is definitely addressed in those books, the honesty at how interests may not always equate to future careers, etc. was just so—real that I loved how it was explored!
I even loved how this novel explored the changing dynamics of friendship and goals after high school as the characters contemplate how college will change things for them.
Marnie’s dynamic with the guy’s team was not easy at first, but as the novel progresses you see it change and grow as you see her determination to keep pushing on.
As for the sports aspect, I felt it was really given depth through the descriptions, through Marnie’s eyes of the games, her own personal knowledge, and how the baseball lingo is used throughout the novel at sports + non-sports related moments.
I think my only minor issues, were slow pacing at some points, not much background/expansion given to some main + side characters, and I wish the changing dynamic between Marnie & her mom (who Marnie see’s as absent/unsupportive of her passion for baseball) was given more page time!
Overall I really loved how the plot progressed and felt Lee left it at the perfect moment till the very end! Where you know all the strings are relatively tied up, but still leaves you wanting more!
Out Of Left Field is a uniquely plotted YA Contemporary, perfect for those seeking out more sports contemporary! There’s some romance, while friendship + Marnie’s passion for baseball is at the heart of this story! Fun, sporty, and a great YA Contemporary for your Summer TBR!