Saturday, September 29, 2012

Reading: Bat 6 by Virginia Wolff

I had to read Bat 6 for a class I'm currently taking that focuses on childhood in war.  At first I wondered how a book about a bunch of girls playing softball would relate to war but after reading the book, I realized that a war novel isn't always one that takes place during the actual war.  It can take place after the war.  In this novel, the town of Barlow is picking up the pieces after World War II. 
Bat 6 by Virginia Wolff is a novel about a softball game played every year called The Bat 6 Game.  Two teams consisting of girls from the 6th grade, Bear Creek Ridge and Barlow, have been playing the annual game since 1899.  The game was first played after people began settling in the town of Barlow and the men couldn't seem to agree on anything.  The women decided to play a game of softball and suddenly the men were laughing and getting along.  The game has been something to unite everyone once a year.  This year, though, each team has a new player with very interesting and compelling stories.  On one team is Aki, a young Japanese girl whose family was sent to a Japanese internment camp after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor.  Her family has returned to Barlow, after leaving the camps a few years earlier, just for Aki to play in the Bat 6 because it is very important to them.  On the other team is Shazam.  Her real name is Shirley but she prefers to be called Shazam for the reason that Shazam is a Marvel comic character.  Shazam's father was killed during Pearl Harbor and she has had to grow up without a father and a sad mother who never lets Shazam forget she has no father.  Shazam has come to Barlow to live with her grandmother after her mother can't seem to take care of her properly.  When these two teams come to face each other, something unique and frightening happens.
Bat 6 is very poignant novel that centers around all of the girls playing in the Bat 6 ball game.  There are 22 narrators in total.  Each girl has her own voice and has a lot to say.  Mostly they are talking about the new players on their team but they also talk about what they are thankful for and school.  The war has affected all of them in small ways and they talk about their lives to try and make sense of everything that happened during and after the war.  Does Wolff succeed in making this a very human experience?  Absolutely!  Reading this novel, you can't help but imagine that you are one of these girls on the Bat 6 team.  These girls all have strengths and fears and are worried about the game and school and their family life.  What unites them is this softball game.  It's hard not to feel a bit nostalgic reading this novel.  I give it 4.5 out of 5 stars.  It was a really great read!

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