Never Blame The Umpire  -     By: Gene Fehler
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Never Blame The Umpire

Zondervan / 2010 / Hardcover

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Product Description

How do you trust God when tragedy strikes? Kate is having the best summer a sports-loving eleven-year-old could possibly have. Baseball. Tennis. And to top it off, Kate has just started a three-week class where she's discovering a new love: poetry. Then comes the news that tears Kate's world apart. In her close-knit family, Kate has always felt God's love and protection. But how can she trust God now? Do sports or poetry matter when tragedy strikes? In Kate's darkest hour, her mother's faith shines its brightest, helping Kate to see that life is still beautiful and God is still good. Always, no matter what.

Product Information

Format: Hardcover
Number of Pages: 176
Vendor: Zondervan
Publication Date: 2010
Dimensions: 8.75 X 5.75 X .75 (inches)
ISBN: 0310719410
ISBN-13: 9780310719410
Availability: Usually ships in 24-48 hours.
Ages: 9-12

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Publisher's Description

Eleven-year-old Kate loves baseball, tennis, and writing poetry, but struggles to find joy when tragedy strikes her close-knit family.

Author Bio

Gene Fehler, an award-winning and widely published poet, is the author of 13 published books and over eighteen hundred published poems, stories, and articles. His teaching career included having taught English and creative writing in colleges in Illinois, Texas, and Alabama; and in high schools in Illinois, Texas, and Georgia.

ChristianBookPreviews

Gene Fehler’s Never Blame the Umpire presents a unique and uplifting view of the role of suffering in life. It follows a young girl named Kate whose life gets turned upside-down one summer when her mother is diagnosed with cancer. She struggles with her anger toward God and uses baseball and poetry to work through her confusion and emotions. Kate must learn the lesson of 2 Thessalonians 3:16, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting comfort and hope, which we don’t deserve, comfort your hearts with all comfort, and help you in every good thing you say and do.”

Fehler writes in a clear, concise way, making it easy for youth to follow. He occasionally inserts poetry into the book, adding a deeper level of emotions to the writing style. Through these poems, the reader is more able to get inside of the characters’ minds and feel more deeply what the characters are feeling.

Kate’s summer starts out as a perfect mixture of friends, baseball, and poetry, but takes a drastic turn after her mother becomes ill. Kate must learn to lean on others and to trust God through her hurt and frustration. She wonders, if God is truly good then why is her mother sick? Through the newfound outlet of poetry, Kate attempts to sort her feelings and gain a new appreciation for life.

Fehler has created characters to whom all young adults can relate, especially Kate and her brother Ken. They are average American kids, but their emotions and thoughts run deep and keep the plot moving. Kate’s parents provide strong insights into the proper Christian responses to trials. They add a lot of wisdom to the book. Some of the lesser characters, such as Kate’s best friend, Ginny, could have been more three-dimensional, but were still an important part of the storyline. Kate’s friend and classmate, Allison, is the voice of reason and truth throughout Kate’s spiritual journey; she is always prepared to lend a hand, pray, or share a Bible verse. She shows Kate that God’s ways are always perfect, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

In an era when illnesses take the lives of many of our loved ones, Fehler has created a masterpiece of literature to which everyone can relate. At some point, everyone must learn to be joyful through suffering, and this book will help pre-teens and early teens to see past the obvious pain, and, instead, see the great faithfulness and love of the Lord. This book would make a great addition to anyone’s personal library. – Sarah Sawicki, www.ChristianBookPreviews.com

Publisher's Weekly

A summer baseball league and creative writing class, combined with a church community and family traditions like Friday night movies and popcorn, provide middle-school narrator Kate with supportive mentors, friends, and rituals while she faces devastating loss. Present-tense narration offers a sense of immediacy as Kate learns of her mother's cancer and, later, prepares for her death. Kate's poems, inspired by a variety of “starter activities,” give voice to her rage, confusion, and doubt. They also chronicle her changing perspective on what's important: while an early poem documents her disappointment that her parents missed her game-winning hit, a later one asks: “Why? It isn't fair. Isn't there/ a way to stop death?” In describing her faith in God's love and the peace she's attained as she faces death, Kate's mother equates acceptance of God's plan with a baseball player's acceptance of an umpire's call. While this analogy may feel simplistic and spark readers to ask more questions about why bad things happen to good people, the overarching message that love is stronger than death prevails in Fehler's (Beanball) tender, engaging story. Ages 9–12. (Mar.)Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

Editorial Reviews

“…a tender, engaging story.”
“…Fehler has created a masterpiece of literature to which everyone can relate…This book would make a great addition to anyone’s personal library.”

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  1. Janna Ryan
    North Platte, NE
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    Good YA, but heavy
    October 1, 2010
    Janna Ryan
    North Platte, NE
    Age: 35-44
    Gender: female

    A Young Adult book that deals with a heavy subject in a wonderful way, but that doesn't make it any easier to read. In this book, Katie is set to have a great summer. She is on the baseball team with her brother and her mom and dad are coming to their games. It opens at a game where she makes the winning play, except her mom and dad aren't there to see it. When she gets home something seems seriously wrong, but she figures she must be mistaken. Eventually Mom and Dad take Katie and Ken to the beach for the day to break the bad news... Mom is really sick.

    Death and dying are not easy subjects, especially for a 12 year old girl with her whole life in front of her. How will Katie handle this summer with her mom, will she push God away or allow Him to come closer. This was not an easy book to read, but it was so good.

    (Sarah's review)
    My 13 year old daughter Sarah read it and she thinks it was really good (and sad) and she read it in 1 day! But it was hard for her not to tell me about it. She thinks it is something for all young girls to remember that God is always with you and will be there for us when bad stuff happens. Life goes on that way. But hey never blame the umpire (and God!) You see the umpire is like God, of course the umpire will mess up even though God doesn't. But the umpire is in control of the game. So let's say your team lost, of course you will get mad but you knew it was a fair game.

  2. Molly Edwards, Book Reviews by Buuklvr81
    4 Stars Out Of 5
    March 1, 2010
    Molly Edwards, Book Reviews by Buuklvr81

    This was a wonderfully written book. I am very pleased that I had the opportunity to review this book. It is a short and easy read, as will be my review. Gene Fehler pulls together an unforgettable story of a young girl struggling with death of a loved one from cancer and feeling like her life is unfair. The issues and ways of handling this and God all shine through in Fehler's work. I will say that this book is geared toward younger people, especially those who may be struggling with death and finding their happiness, however, I recommend this book as a wonderful read for everyone, because there is a message from God in here that is sure to touch everyone in some way. I know it did me. My heart goes out to Kate and her family...I cried with them, smiled with them, and prayed with them. I hope you will give this book a chance and get to know the wonderful characters throughout this story...it is worth the time and worthy of a 4 star praise! Well done!

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