THE WAY HOME IS LONGER by Christopher Renino


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 Newcomer Renino offers a remarkably affecting debut about a young man's coming of age in postWW II Brooklyn. It's 1947, and 19-year-old Vince Stigiano (who was too young for the war that claimed the lives of so many schoolmates) is working as a batboy with the Brooklyn Dodgers. The sole support of a widowed mother who's recovering from TB, Vince takes in stride the conferred glamour of a dream job with the community's beloved Bums. Quiet Vince also understands that the often bitter realities of his own life are not so different from the difficulties experienced by a ballclub simultaneously trying to assimilate Jackie Robinson (the first African-American to play in the majors) and win the National League pennant. As the home team begins winning consistently, Sam LaVista, Vince's closest friend, makes a delayed return from the Army Air Corps, having served as a fighter pilot. While Vince attempts to help Sam readjust to civilian life, he becomes romantically involved with Sam's younger sister Alma. But traumatized by the combat deaths of fellow fliers, the onetime golden boy refuses Vince's help. Then Alma decides to attend the University of Cincinnati (where Vince can see her only on road trips). Finally cured after a midsummer stay at Saranac Lake, moreover, Vince's mother is considering remarriage. On the plus side of his ledger, the Dodgers finish an exciting season on top of the standings and play the Yankees for the world championship. At the close, Vince refuses an offer to return to the Dodgers in 1948 and prepares to make a life for himself, perhaps with Alma. An engaging, sure-handed first novel that uses baseball and an outer-borough milieu to excellent advantage in evoking a seemingly simpler time, when youth's losses were as painful as ever but its griefs more privately held.

Pub Date: May 31st, 1997
ISBN: 0-312-15686-3
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Dunne/St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1997