March 27, 2006

Colt Trammel: Under Construction

It's not your typical sports book, because we never see the protagonist play -- but baseball still figures largely in A.M. Jenkins' Out of Order. The season is just six weeks away, and Colt Trammel might not get to play, not unless he brings his grades up to a C average, according to his rather out-of-patience mother. Colt's still dreaming of baseball, however, and gets out there to play every time he can. It helps him to forget everything else that's going on -- that school -- especially English and geometry -- are getting harder and harder, that the girlfriend he's adored since middle school is flouncing off mad at him again, that his little sister's getting better grades than he is, and that the new girl at school rubs him the wrong way.

The novel portrays jocks in a somewhat stereotypical fashion -- telling big stories about their sexual prowess in the locker room, making up things to do to animals (they put a cat in a freezer), seeing girls as bleeding hearts with teary-eyes, or... as whores who should put out. Because the author strives to withhold judgment, a lot of times the protagonist's low-impulse control behavior leaves him a bit difficult to like. The story has the ring of truth, however.

Jenkins is often praised for writing 'real' characters for people who need to see that their lives are "normal;" my only real wish is that this character had received help for what was obviously a learning disability - it seemed odd with as affluent and aware as his parent seemed to be, and with all of the attention (negative) that he had from teachers that he had not even an actual tutor, except one he found himself to help him pass a test. (It would also be good to see a male student with learning disabilities portrayed as a good kid for once, too, but that's wishful thinking.)

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