The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball {Book Review}

The boy and I discovered The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball by Dori Jones Yang in an email regarding back to school reads.  We thought it sounded like good read, so I requested it for him to review on his book blog, A Boy's Books.

The book arrived yesterday afternoon (Thursday), while he was at school, so I decided to read a chapter or two.  And then a couple more.  And by the time I went to pick him up, I had finished 2/3 of the book. We came home, ate dinner, and I decided I simply had to finish the book before bed, and before giving it to him.

The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball tells the story of Leon and Carson, two young Chinese boys in the 1870s who were sent to the United States to study English, earn college degrees, then return to modernize China.  Younger brother Leon takes to his new role, learning English, developing a fascination with trains and modern machinery, making friends, and even learning to play baseball.  His adaptation to America is at odds with his familial duty to his older brother, Carson, who is less enthralled with the new country.  Unlike Leon, Carson is unable to look past the differences between the two cultures and longs for what he had hoped his life would be like in China.  As time progresses, the disparity between the brothers grows, causing problems between them.

While the characters are fictional, the book is based on historical facts.  The Chinese Educational Mission sent over 100 young boys from China to New England in the late 1800s.  I love a good historical fiction novel anyhow, and prior to Forbidden Temptation, I had never heard of the Chinese Educational Mission.  I loved the story, especially learning more about the program and how it played out for these young boys.  Those who were selected knew they were going somewhere no one could speak their language and would likely not to return to their home country for ten or more years.

After I finished the book, Ben started it as well.  I am so excited for him to finish so we can talk about it.  We're hoping to do more family book club selections and The Forbidden Temptations of Baseball was a perfect choice for a family read.

Disclosure: We received our copy of The Forbidden Temptation of Baseball via Sparkpoints and BookSparks.  All opinions are my own.