Book Review: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! by Sarah Kapit

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! – booksofwonder

Title: Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!

Author: Sarah Kapit

Genre: Realistic Middle-Grade Fiction

Number of Pages: 336

Rating: B+

Recommended?: Yes



I have no interest in sports whatsoever, but I like reading novels with main characters on the autism spectrum and I feel representation has been getting better and better in recent years. Where previously children with autism were usually portrayed as a challenge in the lives of neurotypical parents and siblings, we’re starting to get more stories that focus on the person themselves. Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! is about a mildly autistic preteen girl who lives and breathes baseball, but her mom thinks she can’t handle playing competitively because of her challenges.



Frustrated by her mom’s overprotectiveness and her dad’s intense aversion to conflict, Vivy starts writing letters to her favorite baseball player, V.J. Capello. V.J. Capello is black and started playing when baseball was considered a white man’s game, and he knows a thing or two about being underestimated just because you’re different. He tries to offer Vivy advice about her daily struggles, including poor communication with her mom and her coach’s son being a bully, but Vivy proves to reject his guidance in favor of repeating her own mistakes.


Vivy Cohen is an engaging and believably flawed character, and the behavior that stems from her autism is sensitively portrayed and never overdone. The author does an excellent job with the epistolary format, making it feel authentic with appropriate and believable boundaries between her and the pen pal she idolizes. The subplot about Vivy’s older brother coming out to his family fits in well thematically, avoiding coming off as unneeded family drama.


I found Vivy’s mother to be extremely unreasonable to the point of being baffling, especially near the beginning. Maybe the author meant to give Mrs. Cohen sympathetic motivations but she blows her daughter’s disability so out of proportion it mostly made me want to slap her.


Considering Vivy’s particular set of challenges it felt like her mother wanted to keep her in a box forever, and I never really gained much understanding of why she acted the way she did. Vivy’s dad and brother are solid characters but it’s Vivy and V.J. Capello who really shine, managing to feel real and keep the reader’s attention and sympathy throughout. I really enjoyed reading this book and I can’t wait to read whatever the author puts out next.




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