Summary: Seventeen year-old Alan has one thing on his mind: getting laid. Under the tutelage of his best friend and self-proclaimed ladies’ man, Jeremy, Alan approaches Maggie to invite her to a school dance, only to be turned down because he comes off as desperate. But once Maggie has had time to cool down, she offers Alan her services to help him find someone to date and achieve his goals of ‘running the bases’ and ‘hitting a home run.’ Several hilarious episodes ensue, until Alan finds a college woman named Rochelle that he begins to fall in love with, getting so close to completing his goal. The only problem is Alan has led her to believe he is also a college student, and when Maggie finds out she demands that he tell Rochelle the truth.
Number of Pages: 148
Age Range: 15-17
Review: Reminiscent of Don Calame’s Swim the Fly, Running the Bases by Paul Kropp takes the age old story of teenage boys pursuing their first sexual experiences from wanting to see a girl naked to wanting to get laid. Both books take a humourous approach, but the difference is Kropp’s book includes the female perspective via Maggie’s character, and ends up providing his reader with a great deal of insight into how the opposite sex should be treated.
I liked it because it works for male and female mid to late teen readers, and it did not end up being too graphic. I laughed out loud as Alan messed up one opportunity after another to run the bases, until he meets someone who hasn’t heard of his spectacular failures: a college woman.
Alan is thoughtful character who genuinely wants to learn, and though he seems like a bit of a horn dog with his focus on having sex at first, Kropp turns him into someone likeable. Even when he ended up lying repeatedly to Rochelle, it wasn’t until Maggie called him on it that he seemed like a bad guy.
For me, Maggie stole the book though. Her wisdom and guts to call Alan on his crap was great, and I loved how she turned him into a sensitive partner who knew when to keep his hands to himself. The scene with Maggie’s aversion therapy was hilarious, and the best of the story.
Kropp’s ending, though a bit abrupt, was satisfying, and I’d be interested in reading the sequel, Homerun.
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. What kind of idiot came up with an idea like that? If at first you don’t succeed, give up and go try something else. For the next few days, I considered life in a monastery. After a little Internet research, I figured I could be a very effective Benedictine monk. They have a simple life: no women, no talking, no making a fool of yourself. Besides, they make a very fine brandy that probably gets tested in the monastery before it’s shipped out to the rest of the world.” – Alan from Running the Bases by Paul Kropp, page 55
“My dad looked more embarrassed. ‘I know. But your mom and I notice that you’re going out a lot these days, and we thought, I mean, your mom thought I should talk to you about . . . protection.’
‘Protection?’ My mind shifted to Val Halvorsen and his goons. I could use some protection from those guys.
‘It’s just that, sooner or later . . . and I hope it’s later . . . you’re going to be, uh, sexually active.’
‘Well, I hope so,’ I said. Suddenly I felt very relaxed. My dad was so nervous that he managed to make me feel calm.
‘And you know there are a lot of diseases you can get from, well, doing it with people you don’t know . . .’
‘I’ve seen pictures,’ I told him, which was true. We had a video in our biology class that was so graphic it would make any sensible person give up sex forever. Of course, teenagers aren’t all that sensible. Maybe if there were pictures of gonorrhea infections on beer bottles, like those cancer pictures on cigarette packs, it would give us a whole generation of celibates.” – Conversation between Alan and his dad from Running the Bases by Paul Kropp, pages 96-97