7 Days at the Hot Corner by Terry Trueman
This should be the best time of Scott Latimer’s life. He’s a high school senior and the starting third baseman on a team riding a 14-game winning streak. But a few months ago, he touched his friend Travis’s cut lip, and one day ago, Travis told Scott that he was gay. Worried that he may have contracted HIV from coming in contact with Travis’s blood, Scott decides to get tested for HIV. But while getting tested, the nice Public Health nurse tells Scott he won’t get the results for seven days. Now Scott has too many things to worry about — the pressure of maintaining the winning streak so his team can win the league championship, his friendship with Travis, the reaction of people at school if others find out that Travis is gay, and what to do if he, Scott, is HIV positive.
7 Days at the Hot Corner, by Terry Trueman, has received positive reviews, but left me underwhelmed. I found it admirable more for the fact that it’s about a teen (guy!) dealing with his best friend’s sexuality. I wanted to like the book; Scott and Travis were likeable characters, and Scott’s confusion rang true. But too often I felt like the point of the book was its message, not its characters. Like when Dorothy, the nurse, tells Scott about common misconceptions of HIV. Or Scott’s discussions with his parents.
However, my biggest problems have to do with some of the off-the-field baseball issues. What’s the big deal about a 14 game winning streak? It’s a lot of wins, to be sure, but not unheard of in high school baseball. According to this article, the record is 75 games. Other problems (highlight to read, because they are semi-spoilerish): the whole thing about how each game might be his last unless he gets drafted by a Major League team? Huh? If Scott’s good enough to possibly be drafted, isn’t he also good enough for college or juco ball? I’m assuming his grades were okay, since he’s eligible to play baseball and nothing was ever said about him otherwise not being able to qualify. And finding out he got drafted through a letter in the mail, which also tells him he’ll be starting off in triple-A? Wait, if you’re good enough to go to triple-A instead of a rookie league, wouldn’t you be among the top draft picks, getting a phone call and an agent, not a letter in the mail? Wouldn’t you have also known that you would be drafted?
If I wasn’t so dissatisfied with other aspects of the book, these issues would not have bothered me so much. But once I started questioning the baseball stuff, I had a hard time accepting the rest of the story. That said, I will recommend this book to readers looking for books with gay characters, basically by default, because I can’t think of many other books about straight teens who, over the course of the book, must learn to deal with the fact that their best friend is gay while not questioning their own sexuality.* Hopefully, the people asking for recommendations won’t be baseball fans.
* Name Me Nobody? The Bermudez Triangle? Both about girls, though.