The title of this book is wonderfully accurate. It really is the story of the entire season, and not just the baseball parts (although baseball fans wThe title of this book is wonderfully accurate. It really is the story of the entire season, and not just the baseball parts (although baseball fans won't be disappointed in the description of plays and pitches). But it is much more than a play-by-play of every game the Dodgers played in 1947; Eig paints a picture of the entire season and how it resonated throughout the country.
Eig's writing is so vivid, you can feel the emotion as Jackie walks into the clubhouse for the first time, as he takes the plate for the first time, as he faces both cruelty and kindness in cities and ballparks across the Major Leagues. He gives us profiles of people who were affected by Robinson's barrier-breaking, including author Robert B. Parker, civil rights leader Malcolm X, and future governor of Virginia Douglas Wilder. Although some of these profiles go on a bit too long, they contribute a lot to the sense of change that was in atmosphere in 1947.
Eig doesn't exactly soft-pedal the negative reactions from both within and without baseball that arose as a result of integration, but in some ways, he down-plays it a little bit. Some of Jackie's fellow Dodgers were opposed on principle to playing with a black man, but when he joined the team, they realized he was an ok guy and that integration probably wouldn't actually bring about the end of civilization as we know it. Somehow I don't think it was that easy....more
Bohjalian takes the story of a father grieving over the death of a son and wraps it around hints of a ghost story. About a year after his son's death,Bohjalian takes the story of a father grieving over the death of a son and wraps it around hints of a ghost story. About a year after his son's death, Bill Parrish decides that coaching the local Little League team for which his son would have played will help him cope with the loss. When he gets the roster for his team, he notices a name, Lucky Diamond, that he's never heard before, unusual in his small Vermont town. A natural at baseball, Lucky should fit in well on the team. But the mystery surrounding him and his arrival deepen, and Bohjalian adds a few seemingly supernatural occurrences (strange cat behavior and the like) to a few odd and vaguely threatening coincidences (a boy who makes mean comments about Lucky is almost killed by a flying baseball bat) and Bill (and the reader) question who Lucky really is and what he's doing there. While the answer to those questions isn't overly satisfying (although it's reasonable enough) the resolution to the story is immensely gratifying....more
Like Linda Sue Park (as she says in her afterword), I don't remember learning to score a baseball game, but I know it was one of the many things my paLike Linda Sue Park (as she says in her afterword), I don't remember learning to score a baseball game, but I know it was one of the many things my parents taught me to do as I was growing up. And like Maggie in this wonderful story, keeping score only added to my love of the game.
Park combines a story of a girl growing up with her love of the Brooklyn Dodgers (although the story ends before she would experience the ultimate disappointment of their move to Los Angeles) with a story about her concern about a friend who is sent to Korea and her growing awareness of the conflict there.
I couldn't give this book 5 stars because it gets a bit sappy near the end. But the rest of the book is well worth it, especially for Dodgers fans!...more
Although the title might lead one to think that it's funny, this book was described to me as "depressing." In fact, the title refers to a type of hiddAlthough the title might lead one to think that it's funny, this book was described to me as "depressing." In fact, the title refers to a type of hidden retaining wall, rather than laughter. Either way, though, I wouldn't describe the book depressing myself, aside from the steep slide downward toward the end.
Rather, I'd say this book is astonishingly hopeful. Our main character has overcome a great deal of adversity, and managed to make a life for himself despite an injury that has left him unable to speak or to read easily. He has overcome addiction and the death of parents. He has made a life for himself, and achieved an equilibrium largely characterized by his detachment from the people around him.
But when his high school sweetheart asks him to take in her 9-year-old son, Ryan, while she goes to rehab, he finds that they are able to form a bond. But perhaps this emotional reawakening is not all that Howard thinks it will be. Inevitably, though, Ryan must return to his mother, and Howard finds his newly constructed world unraveling.
This is the depressing part of the book, which perhaps is more drawn out than it needed to be. Again, Howard must struggle, but this time, instead of finding solace in solitude, Howard is able to turn to the relationships he formed through Ryan and find comfort in companionship....more