It was supposed to be about an aspiring baseball player growing up on the streets of San Pedro de Macorís, “The Cradle of Shortstops.” It is still about him, but it is also about a sensitive American girl named Maya who takes an interest in the same player, years later when he is in the minor leagues and struggling. It is about a baseball blogger named Grace, and a Haitian girl named Bijou, and it’s about bees.
I’ve learned a lot from the writing. I’ve learned a bit of Spanish and a heck of a lot about the D.R. I’ve come to think of it with the same fondness and familiarity as places I’ve lived.
It’s really different from my other books. I was inspired by the likes of Beverly Cleary and Gary Paulsen to write with more emotional frankness, abandoning the masters-program-learned habit of using subtle hints at hidden feelings. I wrote in the third person instead of the first person, and there are two point-of-view characters instead of one. I let the characters and their decisions drive all the plot turns, and it makes for a less eventful book than the last few, with their marauding robots and invasive fungi, but there are still some twists and turns and reveals. And, for what it’s worth, there is not a single white boy in the story.
I don’t know if the rest of the world will love this book, but it’s I’m glad I wrote it and I think it’s the best thing I’ve ever done and in any case I’m stuck with it now. I finished it last night.