Cover image for Golden arm
Golden arm
Physical Description:
354 pages ; 22 cm
Lazarus Weathers, a high school senior from the wrong side of the tracks, seeks to protect his half-brother while pitching his way out of poverty, one strike at a time.


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In this riveting story about baseball and brotherhood, a boy from the wrong side of the tracks finds himself pitching his way out of poverty--one strike at a time. By "a premier author of provocative YA sports novels" ( The Bulletin ).

Lazarus "Laz" Weathers has always been shy, and his issue with stuttering when he speaks hasn't helped. Stuck in a Seattle trailer park, Laz finds baseball helps him escape from the world of poverty and drugs. When he gets an opportunity to pitch for the rich kids across town, he has a chance to get drafted by the major leagues.

But playing for the other team means leaving behind his family, including Antonio, Laz's younger brother, who more and more, seems to be drawn to the dark world of the Jet City's drug ring. Now Laz will have to choose between being the star pitcher he always dreamed of becoming and the team player his family needs.

Author Notes

Carl Deuker is a celebrated author of "top-flight sports writing matched to uncommonly perceptive coming-of-age stories" (Kirkus Reviews). His popular titles include Gym Candy , Payback Time , Runner , and High Heat . He was a teacher for many years in the Seattle area, where he now lives with his wife.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

Gr 7 Up--As he enters his senior year of high school, Lazarus "Laz" Weathers's life already seems to be heading toward a dead end. Laz stutters, his struggles in school mean college isn't an option, the trailer park where he lives is about to be shut down, and his beloved brother has started hanging out with the local drug dealer. The only bright spot on Laz's horizon is baseball. Laz is a gifted pitcher, but his hopes of getting recruited for the minor leagues are dashed when his high school team forfeits at the beginning of their season. Fortunately, a last-minute chance to pitch for a wealthy school across town gives him one final chance to escape the trailer park and make a life for himself. Acclaimed sportswriter Deuker deftly weaves baseball action into a solid coming-of-age tale, as Laz navigates the class divide when the well-off Thurmans take him in when he switches schools. Pressures from coaches and scouts build, and Laz is forced into a reckoning as he must decide what is truly important to him--his career or his family. VERDICT Short chapters and easy-to-follow writing make this book a strong choice for any school with a collection of sports fiction.--Bobbi Parry, East Baton Rouge Parish School System, LA

Kirkus Review

A high school baseball player fights for his dream of pitching in the major leagues. Lazarus "Laz" Weathers--so named because he almost died while being born--is a pitcher living in Jet City, a trailer park in Seattle. With a speech impediment and a learning disability, Laz believes that baseball might be the only path available to him after high school. His half brother, Antonio, is 18 months younger and also likes baseball--but lately, Antonio has been hanging out with Garrett, a small-time drug dealer, which worries Laz. After the baseball program closes at North Central High, it's announced that Jet City will be demolished by developers, and his mother decides to move out of the city. Laz receives the opportunity of a lifetime: transfer to Laurelhurst High, which has the city's top team, and live with the family of their star player. Knowing he'll get better training and more exposure to college scouts in Seattle, Laz must decide whether to leave his family and chase after his dream. Deuker (Gutless, 2016, etc.) weaves an interesting plot dealing with socio-economic inequality and drug use into a cast of varied characters. Unfortunately, the secondary characters at times prove to be more interesting that the protagonist, whose characterization falls flat. With few physical descriptions or cultural markers, ethnicity is difficult to determine. An entertaining visit to the ballpark. (Fiction. 12-18) Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Nineteen-year-old Lazarus (Laz) Weathers and his half brother, Antonio, live with their mother in Jet City, a dilapidated trailer park in Seattle. When the boys' high school scraps its baseball program, the former coach convinces a few guys to play in the summer, among them Laz. The ragtag team goes up against other high schools in the area, and Laz's incredible pitching catches the attention of Mr. Thurman, the father of a star player at affluent Laurelhurst High. Mr. Thurman offers Laz a room in their house so that he can attend Laurelhurst, play baseball, and help his son's team win the state title (the main reason for his generosity). Itching to get out of Jet City, Laz knows this could be his chance at a better future and accepts. Just as everything seems to be going his way, including catching the eye of some major league scouts, Antonio gets into trouble, forcing Laz to weigh the value of family against getting an offer from the pros. With short, fast-paced chapters, Deuker's realistic novel pits poverty, friendship, teamwork, self-reliance, and supportive adults against wealth, privilege, overambition, and overbearing helicopter parents. Even readers who don't like baseball will be riveted to this human-interest, underdog story. Readers who still love Matt Christopher's and John Feinstein's books won't want to put this down.



One I LIVE IN A SINGLE-WIDE in Jet City, a trailer park in Seattle. I got my baseball glove for two bucks at Goodwill and found my Mariners cap in a garbage can by the RapidRide E bus stop on Aurora Avenue. I don't have baseball cleats or an authentic jersey. I've never been to a major-league baseball game, and we don't have cable TV. I follow the Mariners on my radio.       My mom has worked as a custodian at Northwest Hospital for so long that she has her name--Timmi--stitched on her uniform. She named me Lazarus because I almost died while I was being born, and there's a guy in the Bible named Lazarus who came back from the dead. I'm not good at school, and I'm not good at talking, probably because I was born two months early. When I get nervous, I tilt my head sideways and my eyes roll back, and that's how I stay until something frees up and the words move again. I went to speech class all through grade school, and that helped some. Still, if I'm with Antonio, my younger brother, I let him do the talking for both of us.       When I'm on my game, none of that matters, because my pitching speaks for me. The hitters all look more like baseball players than I do, but their fancy gear does them no good. My arm is free and loose like a whip, and everything slows. Everything except the ball coming out of my hand. The batter might slap a soft ground ball or manage a pop fly, but squaring up one of my fastballs and driving it far and deep?       Not happening.       When I'm in the zone, I know I'm good enough to get drafted by a major-league team, and maybe even good enough to make it all the way to the major leagues. But to take even one step down that road, I need a scout to see me when I'm on my game. Until that happens, nothing happens.       My school, North Central High, is a tough school. The kids are poor like my brother and me. Some are immigrant kids who don't speak English at home. Some are in gangs, or are gang wannabes. Teachers and coaches desert North Central first chance they get.       Mr. Kellogg coaches our baseball team, and he does it alone. No assistant coaches, no parent volunteers. Just Mr. Kellogg. He was a third baseman in high school, so he knows hitting and fielding, but not pitching.       That's nothing new for me. I've never had a real pitching coach. I've had games when my stuff is unhittable, but when I'm not in the zone, I guide my pitches instead of letting them fly. I don't know if my stride is too long or I'm releasing the ball too soon, and there's never been anybody to ask. My fastball comes right down Main Street, and it isn't all that fast. Then I get hit, and hit hard, which is why my overall stats are mediocre.       Major-league teams don't draft mediocre pitchers. Two MY LAST NAME IS WEATHERS; my brother Antonio's last name is Driver. Since we have different fathers, it's no surprise that we don't look alike. I'm six-two, long-armed, skinny, have light brown hair and a little peach fuzz on my face. Antonio is four inches shorter but fifteen pounds heavier, has dark hair and eyes, is thick through the chest, and could grow a beard in a week.       It's not just looks--our personalities are different, too. My stutter makes people uncomfortable, and that makes me uncomfortable. Antonio's the guy who lights up a room when he walks in. Partly it's because he's fast and funny with words. But it's more than that. It's as if he got an extra dose of life, so people want to be near him, talk to him, hear him talk.       It's baseball that has held us together. I pitch; he plays shortstop. Half brothers, but full teammates.       We've both always known that our mom isn't like most moms. Her last name is Medina, which makes it seem as though she's not related to either of us. She smokes a pack a day, except for when she's quitting. She has tattoos of barbed wire on her arms and neck, and her hair always has purple or green streaks. Antonio once asked her to wear a long-sleeved, high-necked shirt to back-to-school night to cover up her tattoos. "You got the mom you got," she said. "Get used to it."       When we were in middle school, some high school kids started hassling Antonio and me as we walked home. "You know why you've got different last names, don't you?" a wiry-haired kid called out.       I looked over, not getting it, but Antonio understood. It doesn't matter whether it's on the street or in the classroom--he always understands before I do.       "Shut up," he shouted.       "You do know, don't you?" the kid said, pointing at him and grinning. "But Laz there doesn't, because he's stupid. Isn't that right, L-L-L-L-Laz?"       Moments like that are the worst for me. When I really want to say something, I can't. Antonio jumped in. "I said, shut up."       The kid kept his eyes trained on me. "It's because your mom's a slut. You do know what that means, don't you? Or do I need to explain it to you?"       I'm older by eighteen months, so it should have been me who went first, but it was Antonio. He flew at them, fists windmilling. I followed. We took some punches and got some cuts and bruises, but we gave out punishment, too. I must have caught one of those guys solid, because my right hand hurt for two days.       When Mom saw our bloodied faces, she was mad. "What do you mean you had to fight?" she barked at Antonio.       "They said stuff about you."       "What did they say about me?"       "Stuff," Antonio repeated.       Their eyes locked, and Mom went quiet. Then she took a breath and exhaled. "All right. If you had to, you had to. Just don't be out there looking for trouble. You hear me?" Excerpted from Golden Arm by Carl Deuker All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.