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Reviewed by Trisha Dawn for Readers' Favorite
The year was 1918 and the body was not his. Famous baseball player Austin Evans, who had been raised by his racist grandfather, woke up in the past and in a black man's body after being hit in the head by a pitch in 2015. If Only You Were White by Al B. Beard tells the story of how Austin then lived his life and played the sport he loved around a time of great divide. If Only You Were White is a literary gem. The genres of this novel are vastly different from each other - history, baseball, social issues, and time travel - and yet, they all worked well together. Al B. Beard was able to create a smooth plot and sustain a good pace while the story developed. In addition to the interesting main characters, it was a nice touch to include many famous baseball players from the past for that feeling of authenticity. The dialogue between the characters also contributed greatly. It was a good decision not to tone down or change the words to suit the modern day. After all, most parts of the story took place from 1918 and beyond. This book can be enjoyed by everyone. There were no difficult baseball words to mull over and there were explanations offered whenever necessary.
Really, I couldn't get enough of this story! I hung on every word and turned the pages with bated breath. The characters, even with all of their flaws, inspired me and opened my eyes to how grave the situation was in the past. It made me more aware of that significant part of history. I was emotional while I kept up with the characters and the people they met along the way. Although I knew that history was not so kind to people of color, I was not aware of the extent of the brutality. If You Were White did not just entertain me. It also schooled me. It didn't hurt that I also learned something about baseball! Overall, Al B. Beard's If You Were White is magical, entertaining, and humbling. It has the power to whisk readers away into its world. It's a book to watch out for and, definitely, a must-read.