Gaby's Reviews > Calico Joe

Calico Joe by John Grisham
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's review
Apr 03, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: coming-of-age, middle-grade-readers, received-for-review, summer-reading

I remember reading John Grisham years ago - when he first wrote The Firm. More than anything, he draws you in with his stories. I'd very much enjoyed his Theodore Boone books and had been looking forward to reading Calico Joe, his latest novel.

I'm not that knowledgeable about baseball, so the baseball stats in Calico Joe didn't register with me, the way that I expect they will for more baseball savvy readers. But the real story and its drama was easy to follow.

The story is told by eleven-year old Paul Tracey, the son of New York Mets pitcher Warren Tracey. As a boy, admires his father but has a healthy fear of him as well.

"Baseball was my world, and little else mattered. My father pitched for the New York Mets, and I lived and died with each game. I pitched too, for the Scrappers in the White Plains Little League, and because my father was who he was, great things were expected of me. I rarely met those expectations, but there were moments of promise."

The baseball season of 1973 is marked by the sudden appearance of young Joe Castle. Castle was sharing a cheap apartment with four other minor league players when the first baseman of the Chicago Cubs was injured. Joe was called up and found himself "starting at first and hitting seventh". Joe hit a home run on his first pitch and made baseball history. Joe Castle captured the hearts and imagination of baseball fans all around the country - and our narrator shares his own excitement and admiration of the young player.

Grisham's description of young Calico Joe and the spontaneous surge of affection from baseball fans everywhere sort of reminded me of Jeremy Lin - although I admit that many things remind me of Jeremy Lin nowadays - because of the unexpected show of talent and graciousness. Calico Joe clearly loves the game, is excited by the opportunities opening up for him, and his consistently gracious and likeable. Calico Joe is a great role model -"cocky but not the least bit arrogant" - "a fresh-faced kid who looked all of twenty-one and was on top of the world.

While "everyone was falling in love with Calico Joe", Warren Tracy was jealous of Joe's popularity, success and skill. When the New York Mets face off against the Chicago Cubs, Warren Tracy somehow hits Calico Joe. The action destroys both their professional and personal lives. Decades later, when Paul learns that his father Warren Tracy is dying of cancer, Paul tries to arrange for the men to meet. John Grisham's Calico Joe digs into the what happened that fateful day in 1973 and in the years following. Calico Joe is an engrossing story of rivalry, jealousy, vengeance, forgiveness - and baseball.

ISBN-10: 0385536070 - Hardcover $24.95
Publisher: Doubleday (April 10, 2012), 208 pages.
Review copy courtesy of the publisher.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Sayyad (new)

Sayyad I think the first book he wrote was 'A Time to Kill'... :)

message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Would you enjoy a novel that imagines what would happen if a rookie pitcher threw a fatl bean ball at the direction of his manager and was charged with murder? If so, A Pitch for Justcice may be to your liking.See Tampa tribune review.

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