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Review: Cooper Not Out by Justin Smith

Title: Cooper Not Out
Author: Justin Smith
Year published: 2022
Category: Adult fiction (sports)
Pages: 288 pages
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Location: (my 2022 Google Reading map)Australia

SummaryIn the Australian summer of 1984, in the small country town of Penguin Hill, Sergeant Roy Cooper is making a name for himself. He's been batting for his local cricket club for decades - and he's a statistical miracle. He's overweight, he makes very few runs, he's not pretty to watch, but he's never been dismissed.

When local schoolgirl Cassie Midwinter discovers this feat, she decides to take the matter further. The remarkable story finds its way into the hands of Donna Garrett, a female sports columnist who's forced to write under a male pseudonym to be taken seriously.

That summer, the West Indies are thrashing Australia, and the Australian people's love of cricket has never been lower. But Donna's columns on Roy Cooper capture the imagination of a nation, and soon there's pressure to select him for the national team. This would see him playing at the Melbourne Cricket Ground, carrying the spirit of every small country town in Australia along with him. Could such a miracle actually happen?

This is sport, after all, and who doesn't love a good story?

Review: I heard about this book from Shelleyrae at Book'd Out. I am a sucker for a good underdog sports movie and this seemed like the book version of that. It's based on a true story and did not disappoint!

I love that Ray Coooper is just an ordinary guy. He isn't the smartest, the best looking, the most popular, or the most talented. But he is a good guy is really good at one thing: not getting out. I got emotionally invested in this book and even got teary near the end (you need to know, I get teary in the happy/good parts). All the other characters are also fun: Donna Garrett is strong and I wanted her to get credit for her columns and not use a pseudonym; Cassie is precocious and such a fun girl; Barry is a sweetheart and I want him and Cooper to be happy together (and have the support of family and friends); Cooper's teammates are a hoot.

I will say that there is a lot of cricket talk in this book and I am not well-versed in cricket knowledge. But, I just let it wash over me and figured I understood the main parts and that's what matters. Cricket is complicated.

If you enjoy a feel good story with cooky characters that will warm your heart, read this book. I read this book in one day and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Challenges for which this counts: none

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