Reviewed by Elizabeth Miller
Making It Big
Ever since he was toddler and could first throw, Elgin’s parents knew he would one day be a star baseball player. As he grows, his father vanishes from his life and all he has left is his mother and the love for baseball. Elgin’s love for his mother and baseball keeps him going. His plan is to make it big, not throw away the opportunity like his father had so many years ago. The The Youngest Hero by Jerry B. Jenkins has two points-of-view. The ability to see and hear both Miriam and her son Elgin’s thoughts and actions add another dimension to the story. Being able to listen in on the struggles of a single parent and the thoughts of her growing 10 year old at the same time is truly special. Published by Warner Books in April of 2002, the setting takes place in the early 2000’s of Chicago with a genre of sports fiction. Although a book about baseball, some could argue that family is the main-point.
The best character is Elgin. Because he comes from a struggling family, Elgin manages to stay humble. Growing up with a broomstick for a bat and his father’s old worn-out glove has taught him to embrace what he has and make use of what’s around him. Elgin’s tall for his age and his astonishing talent in baseball puts him closer to the 14 year-olds than the 10 year-olds. No one ever believes that he’s merely a child, “are we sure this kid’s only 10?”(31) and not too many people are happy when he outplays their children. Elgin studies baseball like it’s his job. Sometimes he’ll get carried away and start coaching the team instead of being a teammate. He wants his team to be the best they can be, and often gets frustrated when things don’t work out as planned. Reading and unlocking Elgin’s future is truly exciting.
As Elgin grows, he becomes more and more advanced in his skills. Because of this, coaches and greedy sponsors are always after him. To get him on their team/side would mean great things for them. Miriam wants the best for her son, but she’s terrified that what happened to his dad will happen to him. She can’t afford the nicest equipment for Elgin and it pains her to see him looking longingly at the other children’s new bats and gloves. “I felt self-conscious, and not in a good way.” (86) Miriam sacrifices some of her needs to help Elgin along in his baseball career. She’s Elgin’s biggest fan and supporter. Always making sure he follows the right pathway towards his dream.
The central theme in The Youngest Hero is determination. Elgin is determined to make it to the big leagues, and Miriam is determined to be able to give her son everything he needs and more. A lot of people are determined to do something great with their lives or provide a good future for their children. Miriam works hard at her job, and takes extra hours in order to provide for her son. If he needs something, she’ll sacrifice some of her needs in order to make him happy. “It had to be the pitching machine. There goes my coat.”(110) Elgin works hard at baseball. If he makes a mistake, he’s determined to fix and learn from it.
The Youngest Hero is a great read for anyone with a love for baseball and Christianity and likes a good rags to riches story. Elgin, a christian boy with a love for baseball goes from ratty shoes and a broomstick for a bat, to fame and fortune. All with the help of his mother. This truly is a 5 out of 5 star book. If you liked this book, you should check out The Matheny Manifesto and Armageddon by the same author. I hope this presentation was informative.
Jenkins, Jerry B. The Youngest Hero. New York: Warner Books, 2002. Print.