This is the first book in my quest to provide support to past MG titles. I call it The Nurturing of Middle Grade Books. They take time to grow and I’m adding a little fertilizer to four titles you may have missed. First up is CLUTCH.

Life’s struggles are enormous for Joey Grosser in 1946 Montreal. His father recently died and he’s having to take over the responsibilities of being the man in the house much too early. This includes working at the family store and caring for his younger brother, David.  Joey’s heartfelt narration is emotional and honest as he nears the day of his bar mitzvah.

It’s not so much a book about baseball, but about the parallels of Joey’s real life situation to young Jackie Robinson who plays for the local minor league Montreal Royals. It’s one of those stories that urge you to read one more chapter, and I sailed through it in just two days. It was a much easier choice than the many facing Joey. He’s a brave boy you’ll cheer for, and his story will stay with you for a long time.



Something incredible is happening in Montreal. Jackie Robinson is playing for the Royals, the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Triple-A team. As the first black man to sign a contract in modern organized baseball, Jackie’s going to change the world. Just a short distance away, 12-year-old Joey Grosser has big plans, too. He’s going to break out of the Plateau, his poor Jewish dump of a neighborhood, and make a better life for his mother and little brother on the other side of Park Avenue, where the rich people live. All he needs is money, and he’s got plenty of ideas on how to get it. But every step forward is two steps back, and he turns to the wrong man for help.

One decision will determine Joey’s fate-and whether he’ll live long enough to see Jackie Robinson make baseball history.


CLUTCH by Heather Camlot

  1. Each chapter begins with a quote about Jackie Robinson from a sports journalist at the time. It mirrors the problems in Joey’s life, not one of color but of trying to rise above being poor.
  2. Ben, his best friend, is a integral part of the story. He’s the kind of friend everyone should have. Younger brother, David, is also a needed side character—always searching for that next newspaper article about his baseball hero.
  3. Kudos to the author for creating such a distasteful antagonist in Mr. Wolfe. I cringed in every scene he appeared.
  4. While some books proclaim to be a coming of age story and then never deliver, CLUTCH gives readers a grand slam.
  5. Images of the Montreal from long ago become the perfect setting for this story of a boy learning about life and growing up.


We’re not going to be trapped here much longer. My bar mitzvah may not be until October, but I became a man the minute Pa dropped dead. It was living in this dump that killed him, I know it. But it’s not going to get us, too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR, Heather Camlot:

I grew up in Montreal and was raised on Expos baseball and Canadians hockey. Oddly, I was never a sporty child. I preferred reading, drawing and dreaming.

I graduated from Concordia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies and from New York University with a Master of Arts in Journalism. My work has appeared in various publications, including Quill & Quire, Style at Home, Canadian Living, The Globe and Mail, Homemakers and TV Guide Canada

After fifteen years in journalism as a writer, editor and translator, I longed to get back to fiction, something I used to write as a teenager. My short story, The Boys of Summer, won the 17th Annual Writing for Children Competition held by CANSCAIP and The Writers’ Union of Canada. Clutch is my first novel. I live in Toronto with my husband, Marc, and my kids, Alexandre and Juliana, but still call Montreal home.  (For more see Heather’s author website)


Make a comment if you have time. I enjoy reading all of them. Click on the comments link below.

About Greg Pattridge

Climbing another mountain...always striving to reach the next peak in my life and career.
This entry was posted in Middle Grade Book Reviews, Reviews and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to CLUTCH

  1. This novel sounds great! The way that the book intertwines world events with Joey’s own struggles makes me want to try it! Thanks so much for the review!

  2. This one is right up my alley. Thanks for telling me about it. It is going right on my TBR list.

  3. Denise Vega says:

    Both my son and daughter would both enjoy this story. One loves baseball and the other history. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Andrea Mack says:

    This was such an interesting book! It was really great the way the main character took on family responsibilities in this story.

  5. Wow! A sports book I haven’t seen yet. Definitely have to take a look.

  6. This sounds like an amazing story. I like the parallel lives between a Jewish boy and Jackie Robinson. And, it’s a period book! Great review!

  7. I love reading about baseball! Thanks for letting me know about this.

  8. Thank you for the great review, Greg! I really appreciate it and I’m so glad you enjoyed Clutch!

  9. Pingback: Honours and Reviews – Heather Camlot

  10. Pingback: WHAT IF SOLDIERS FOUGHT WITH PILLOWS? | Always in the Middle…

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