“Biggie” provides light to overweight athletes

Derek E. Sullivan at a book signing for his book “Biggie” at Book Expo America.

Sarah Megibow from KT Literary

Derek E. Sullivan at a book signing for his book “Biggie” at Book Expo America.

Monika Jurevicius, Sports Editor

With events and sports like the MLB being reviewed to see if there can be games with proper social-distancing rules, it’s a great time to start reading sports novels. The extra time can help you dive into books that replace these missing sports seasons. One of these novels is the baseball novel “Biggie” by author Derek Sullivan. The Palatine High School book club was able to speak with Sullivan himself about the book.

Biggie is a realistic fiction, sports novel published in 2015. The book by Sullivan follows a 16-year-old boy named Henry “Biggie” Abott. A lot of weight is put on his shoulders as he is the son of a baseball legend, and his step-father is a close second. It continues to follow Biggie as he goes through the high school struggles of being an overweight athlete. Bullying, relationships, speaking up, and courage is what keeps him trying to reach his goal of pitching a perfect game for his school’s baseball game. 

A large feature of the book is the unconditional love Biggie and his step-brother, Maddux, had with each other. 

“We pitched it [the book] to a lot of different places and a lot of places said no,” Sullivan mentioned when first trying to sell his book. “I remember reading all the turndowns, and nobody ever mentioned Maddux. He was very important, but nobody ever mentioned Maddux.”

A member of the PHS book club during the Zoom meeting asked how much the characters of the book have aspects of Sullivan in it.

“There are people that have read it [the book] that know me and say that’s me,” Sullivan said. “I will say for me, personally, as someone who has not struggled with weight, I’ve been very lucky that of all the responses I’ve gotten from people, I’ve seen 90 percent have been very positive and people have told me that’s what it’s like [Biggie’s history with his weight].”

There was a great effect on the readers of the book as they said that not many of them were or are sports people. However, through the eyes of Biggie, they could understand that they were similar to him, too.

“I’m generally not a big fan of sports books, but I like that it was a sports book about a kid who’s not a sports kid,” Sarah Dyson, an English teacher at PHS, said. “It was kind of relatable, you don’t always love something that you are afraid of or haven’t tried.”

Sullivan started writing his book in college, simply as a thesis for a class, but grew to be something he continued on. This thesis became one of the chapters in the book that features a wiffle ball scene.

“I don’t remember where the wiffle ball came from, I always liked the idea that in wiffle ball, you never really pitch a wiffle ball, you just throw it in the air and it goes,” Sullivan joked.

Only in its early stages of the process, Sullivan is writing his new book that brings us on a journey about a boy who wants to prove people wrong about his goals. Readers can buy “Biggie” on many platforms such as Amazon.com or BarnesandNobles.com. As well, PHS students may check out the book on Sora (available to download on Self Service). You can find more information about Sullivan and his books on his website.