Author: Jenny Manzer
Publisher: Orca Book Publishers
Reviewer: Yolanda Ridge
The start of My Life as a Diamond provides a brief glimpse into ten-year-old Caspar Cadman’s life “before” in a scene where he (still going by the name “Cassie”) decides to cut his hair. The story really starts with the family’s move to a suburb of Seattle, however, after Caspar (now “Caz”) is rejected by his baseball team in Toronto. In his new hometown, he joins a summer baseball team and enjoys the freedom of being himself without anyone knowing “his secret” (which – spoiler alert- eventually catches up with him).
This is another 2018 baseball title I discovered on holidays. Compared to Mascot, there’s a lot more focus on the actual game. The scenes on the diamond are fast paced with just the right amount of baseball lingo and detail. Not all the characters on Caz’s team are well defined, something I find tricky to do when writing sports stories where the main character is part of a big team. I also would’ve liked a bit of insight as to why the bully on the opposing team is so mean (and I didn’t care for the characterization of the vegetarian).
Based on information in the back matter, where there’s a list of transgender resources, the author did a lot of research to create Caz. Since we’re both cis gendered, I have trouble knowing whether the representation of his transition is accurate. I’ve read a few reviews that suggest there are some problems with the “born-in-the-wrong-body” narrative.
Overall, My Life as a Diamond gave me a good insight into what it might be like to fill Caz’s cleats. Baseball fans will enjoy this book, which is an important addition to the increasingly diverse collection of middle grade books.