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Literature / Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!

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Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! is a 2020 middle-grade Epistolary Novel by Sarah Kapit.

Eleven-year-old Vivian Jane Cohen is an autistic girl who loves baseball and wants to be a pitcher. When her social skills teacher tells her to write a letter, she writes to Major League pitcher VJ Capello, who taught her his knuckleball when she met him three years ago. In a series of letters, she describes becoming a pitcher for the Flying Squirrels, an Apricot League team.

Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen! contains examples of:

  • Alliterative Family: Coach K's real name is Kevin. His son is Kyle.
  • The Benchwarmer: After Vivy is hit by a ball and gets a concussion, her mom bans her from playing in anything other than practice games for over a month.
  • Career-Ending Injury: Narrowly averted. As Capello describes in a letter to Vivy, he suffered from a shoulder labrum tear while he was in the lower leagues, ruining his fastball. Instead he took up the knuckleball, allowing him to have a real baseball career.
  • Character Tics: Vivy flaps her hands when she's excited, despite her mother's and therapist's disapproval.
  • Dedication: To all advocates of neurodiversity, past, present, and future.
  • Eating Lunch Alone: Vivy used to eat lunch in the hallway until the teacher said she wasn't allowed, so she started eating at a table with a few other kids who never talked. After she joins the Flying Squirrels, she starts sitting with the catcher Alex Carrillo.
  • Eyes Always Averted: Vivy hates making eye contact, which not only is incredibly uncomfortable but also makes it even harder to find the right words. She looks at people's noses if possible.
  • Fantasy-Forbidding Mother: Vivy's mom is convinced she won't be able to handle being in a baseball team, and constantly tries to interfere.
  • Gayngst: Nate is gay, and has a boyfriend he sneaks out to meet. Nate asks Vivy not to tell their parents, because he's seen their mom treating Vivy like a fragile little kid, and he's afraid she'll do the same with him.
  • Hates Being Touched: Vivy, especially light touch. When Kyle grabs her ponytail, she screams, leading her mom to almost pull her out.
  • Like Father, Unlike Son: Coach K is friendly and supportive, but his son Kyle is The Bully who calls Vivy "monkey-girl." Vivy thinks it's like how her mom is outgoing and talkative, while she isn't at all.
  • My Beloved Smother: Vivy's mom has been like this ever since an incident when she was five, when she wandered off at a beach and hid under a boardwalk, then fell over and scraped her knees after she was found.
  • Narrative Profanity Filter: Vivy's older brother Nate tells her, "I have my own life and it's kind of important. Not that anyone around here gives a flying Triceratops about that." Vivy adds that he didn't really say "Triceratops," but she changed it because she doesn't want to use a bad word.
  • Performance Anxiety: Vivy has mastered her knuckleball playing with Nate, but she does really badly the first time she practices with the Flying Squirrels, then keeps messing up during her first real game. VJ has a similar problem - his performance has been underwhelming since he botched a throw in last year's World Series.
  • Poster-Gallery Bedroom: Nate's walls are covered in posters of baseball players, mostly catchers.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: Vivy's mom thinks that because she's a girl, she should play softball instead of baseball. She has a hard time convincing her mom to let her join.
  • Troubled Fetal Position: Vivy curls up in a ball on the floor of her parents' room after she fails to convince her mom to let her play in games.