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PW #205: Middle Grade Contemporary #ownvoices: THE UNHITTABLE VJC

Wednesday, 1 November 2017  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Manuscript Status: Finished

Mentor Name: Mike Grosso

Mentee Name: Sarah Kapit


Category: Middle Grade

Genre: Contemporary

Word Count: 39,000 words


Vivy throws a mean knuckleball and longs to play for real, but Mom fears an autistic girl can’t handle the pressure. During her trial season, Vivy must conquer the strike zone—and convince Mom she belongs on the mound. Through it all, she writes letters to her hero: Major league pitcher VJ Capello. To her surprise, he writes back. PITCH meets DEAR MR. HENSHAW.


February 18

Dear Vincent James Capello,

I’m Vivian Jane Cohen—VJC, just like you. That’s a sign of a connection between us, isn’t it? I think so. But I don’t go by VJ. Most people call me Vivy. Well, when they’re not calling me weird, crazy or stupid.

Never mind. The important thing is this: I want to be a knuckleball pitcher when I grow up, just like you. When I tell people—my mother and Sandra the counselor who leads social skills group—they say that’s impossible because there’s never been a girl in the major leagues. Still, someone has to be the first, right? And I’d like it to be me. I don’t know if that’s really possible, but my brother Nate says I throw a wicked knuckleball. Except…I’ve never used it in a real game. I don’t play for a team.

Actually, it’s thanks to you I can throw the knuckleball. We met three years ago, when I was a little eight-year old. You played for the Tornadoes in the minor leagues. My family and I went to the game for a social thingy with the Autism Foundation.

I didn’t like the game—loud and boring, which means not for me. The seat felt so sticky against my skin. I bounced up and down even though Mom told me to sit still, Vivy!

Then we went into the clubhouse to meet the players.

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