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PAST THE BLEACHERS

From the author of Hangman (1991) and A Killing in the Real World (1988), a tug-at-the-heartstrings baseball novel— authentically moving in places but, finally, too programmatically sentimental. A Vermont couple—Bill and Harper Parrish—lose their son Nathaniel to leukemia when he's only ten, and the process of grieving includes both ferocious lovemaking and a decision by Bill (a development officer at a local college) to coach the town's Triple A level Little League team, ``the level that Nathaniel would have reached'' in a year. Among the ten- and eleven-year-olds appears Lucky Diamond, a mute who writes on a notepad. The story of Lucky—apparently the son of a mountain logger—begins to overlap with flashbacks of Nathaniel (playing dice baseball with Bill in the hospital); job and coaching incidents; and the domestic healing taking place between Bill and Harper (she finally gets pregnant). We enter ``a 5 a.m. world of fathers without sons.'' Meanwhile, Lucky, who lives in a remote mobile home, doesn't seem to attend school. Bill, protective of Lucky, finally gives him Nathaniel's old glove when his glove is stolen; then, after a series of offstage accidents, Bill confronts the commissioner of the Little League, who knows something. What's discovered is that Lucky's real father was the pro ballplayer Ben Slaughter, who died in a car wreck and left behind a pregnant young lover. While all of these later revelations are a bit forced, Bohjalian cleverly works out the ending every reader will see coming from a mile away. Bill adopts Lucky. Harper has her baby, and the world is an almost perfect place. Bohjalian handles Little League and his Vermont milieu well enough, but this one's too predictable in its overall pattern if not in its particulars. Still, a good get-out-your-handkerchief read for ball fans.

Pub Date: May 15, 1992

ISBN: 0-88184-802-6

Page Count: 256

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 1992

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MAGIC HOUR

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Sisters work together to solve a child-abandonment case.

Ellie and Julia Cates have never been close. Julia is shy and brainy; Ellie gets by on charm and looks. Their differences must be tossed aside when a traumatized young girl wanders in from the forest into their hometown in Washington. The sisters’ professional skills are put to the test. Julia is a world-renowned child psychologist who has lost her edge. She is reeling from a case that went publicly sour. Though she was cleared of all wrongdoing, Julia’s name was tarnished, forcing her to shutter her Beverly Hills practice. Ellie Barton is the local police chief in Rain Valley, who’s never faced a tougher case. This is her chance to prove she is more than just a fading homecoming queen, but a scarcity of clues and a reluctant victim make locating the girl’s parents nearly impossible. Ellie places an SOS call to her sister; she needs an expert to rehabilitate this wild-child who has been living outside of civilization for years. Confronted with her professional demons, Julia once again has the opportunity to display her talents and salvage her reputation. Hannah (The Things We Do for Love, 2004, etc.) is at her best when writing from the girl’s perspective. The feral wolf-child keeps the reader interested long after the other, transparent characters have grown tiresome. Hannah’s torturously over-written romance passages are stale, but there are surprises in store as the sisters set about unearthing Alice’s past and creating a home for her.

Wacky plot keeps the pages turning and enduring schmaltzy romantic sequences.

Pub Date: March 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-345-46752-3

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Ballantine

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2005

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THE CATCHER IN THE RYE

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

A violent surfacing of adolescence (which has little in common with Tarkington's earlier, broadly comic, Seventeen) has a compulsive impact.

"Nobody big except me" is the dream world of Holden Caulfield and his first person story is down to the basic, drab English of the pre-collegiate. For Holden is now being bounced from fancy prep, and, after a vicious evening with hall- and roommates, heads for New York to try to keep his latest failure from his parents. He tries to have a wild evening (all he does is pay the check), is terrorized by the hotel elevator man and his on-call whore, has a date with a girl he likes—and hates, sees his 10 year old sister, Phoebe. He also visits a sympathetic English teacher after trying on a drunken session, and when he keeps his date with Phoebe, who turns up with her suitcase to join him on his flight, he heads home to a hospital siege. This is tender and true, and impossible, in its picture of the old hells of young boys, the lonesomeness and tentative attempts to be mature and secure, the awful block between youth and being grown-up, the fright and sickness that humans and their behavior cause the challenging, the dramatization of the big bang. It is a sorry little worm's view of the off-beat of adult pressure, of contemporary strictures and conformity, of sentiment….

A strict report, worthy of sympathy.

Pub Date: June 15, 1951

ISBN: 0316769177

Page Count: -

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 2, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 1951

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