Excerpt: Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan


By: Derek E. Sullivan
Publisher: Albert Whitman & Company
Published: March 1, 2015
Genre: Contemporary YA

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Henry “Biggie” Abbott is the son of one of Finch, Iowa ‘s most famous athletes. His father was a baseball legend and his step-dad is a close second. At an obese 300+ pounds though, Biggie himself prefers classroom success to sports. As a perfectionist, he doesn’t understand why someone would be happy getting two hits in five trips to the plate. “Forty percent, that’s an F in any class,” he would say. As Biggie’s junior year begins, the girl of his dreams, Annabelle Rivers, starts to flirt with him. Hundreds of people have told him to follow in his dad’s footsteps and play ball, but Annabelle might be the one to actually convince him to try. What happens when a boy who has spent his life since fourth grade trying to remain invisible is suddenly thrust into the harsh glare of the high school spotlight?


If I had followed my mom’s orders and stopped with the junk food and embraced the exercise plans, I would still be working out in the mornings, living off vegetables, and being all­around miserable, twenty­four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Plus, if I look even the slightest bit fit, coaches at sports­obsessed Finch High School would never leave me alone.Some days, I feel like I’m the only person in Finch who doesn’t share a passion for sports. What I don’t understand is why someone would want to fail so much for just a small taste of success. For example, Matt “Jet” Wayne, the baseball team’s best hitter, batted only .418 this summer. So 58.2 percent of the time he failed, and he’s an all­state award winner on the diamond. Wouldn’t all of the failure make someone hate sports?

Another thing about me: I’m a perfectionist. Not only have I mastered my school’s curriculum and perfected a way to avoid insults, I have also never missed a day of school in ten years. Not one. I have never been sick a single day in my life. If junk food is so horrible for your health, how do I stay so healthy? I’m sure the anti­junk­food crowd has no answer for that.

Anyway, a real perfectionist could never enjoy sports. Sports are for guys like Brian Burke, who unfortunately stopped picking his nose. As I got bigger and bigger, adding more and more credence to his nickname for me, he got stronger and faster. Ever since sixth grade, he has been the school’s top athlete. He’s the quarterback, power forward, and starting pitcher. By junior high, Brian wasn’t the only one calling me Biggie. Everyone did. Everyone worshiped him—so much that he got to pick his own nickname, a rarity at any high school.

The story goes that his father used to wear a homemade T­shirt to baseball games that had a big yellow jacket—the school’s mascot —on it, along with the words Brian Burke, Finch’s Killer Bee. Brian loved it so much that one day he told everyone to call him Killer, and to this day they still do. Thanks to Brian, he’s Killer and I’m Biggie.


Derek E. Sullivan is an award-winning reporter and columnist at the Rochester Post-Bulletin in Minnesota. As a reporter, he has written more than 1,000 stories about the lives of teenagers, which he attributes to helping him find his YA voice. He has an MFA from Hamline University and lives in Minnesota with his wife and three sons.

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3 Thoughts on “Excerpt: Biggie by Derek E. Sullivan

  1. Thanks for hosting today, Kristin! 🙂

  2. erinf1 on 4 March, 2015 at 12:42 pm said:

    this looks and sounds very interesting! Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  3. Glenda on 4 March, 2015 at 7:37 pm said:

    Sounds interesting! Thanks!

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