A well-written, intriguing sports tale that explores the importance of home base.

EAGLES AND HAWKS AND ALSO PEOPLE AS WELL

A college baseball player struggles with his faith and sense of belonging when he transfers schools in this literary novel.

After his recovery from Tommy John surgery, college pitcher Vincenzo “Enzo” Prinziatta hopes to catch the attention of pro scouts. But when his 2015 junior year at State University of New York New Paltz passes without any offers, Enzo turns his attention to Cortland, a star in the SUNY Athletic Conference that’s known for its fan-friendly rituals. Enzo is reluctant to exit New Paltz; he’s a big fish in a small pond, and he’s leaving behind his family, his friend and catcher Lakewood “Semzy” Semend, and his girlfriend, Shannon Hestian, softball player and model. Not only that, Shannon is pregnant, and Enzo or his frenemy Barry Budski may be the father. Enzo also struggles with belief; he’s become rededicated to Roman Catholicism, but he’s disturbed to learn that his father lost his faith while dying painfully. What it comes down to, Enzo tells his adviser Father Pann, is that he wants his chance to play pro ball someday: “Beyond that, I think I want to find some place where it feels like home.” Enzo makes the switch from the New Paltz Hawks to the Cortland Eagles and heads to Cortland Summer Camp to prepare for his senior season. But his longing for order is upset by the Eagles’ strange hazing rituals, which leave him off balance—especially the contributions of Trudy Booth, the team’s Chinese-Taiwanese-American fellowship counselor, who spouts New Age–y slogans while stretching alluringly in skintight clothing. She’s also the coach’s wife. Enzo endures it all in the name of fitting in, but can he find a home at Cortland? Enzo is a thoughtful athlete reminiscent of Henry “Author” Wiggen in Mark Harris’ quartet of baseball novels, most notably Bang the Drum Slowly (1956). But Marcopolos (Womyn Do: The Healing of JOHNNY R3BEL, 2016, etc.) offers a postmodern twist. The mysterious keeps taking prominence in this novel: the hazing rituals, which are amusing, sexy, confusing, and disturbing all at once; the hard-to-figure attitudes of Enzo’s teammates; oddities like a replica of the Winchester Mystery House that somehow features a pagan mechanical bull ride; Trudy’s oracular pronouncements; and portentous dreams and symbols involving several dead birds and brick-tied balloons that a teammate pops. Each image speaks of death and aborted flight, a counterpoint to Enzo’s longing for the big leagues and a home that isn’t stifling. Also complex is Enzo’s character. He wants to do the right thing, is compassionately moved by the plight of a boy with a harsh father, but is a self-admitted “douchebag” to Shannon and considers standing up to a sexist teammate’s “joke” to be a fight not worth having. It’s a bit too convenient, however, when Enzo and Shannon’s baby is stillborn—another popped balloon and one that prevents Enzo from having to truly grapple with the consequences of his actions, marriage, or fatherhood.

A well-written, intriguing sports tale that explores the importance of home base.

Pub Date: Sept. 23, 2017

ISBN: 978-0-9862428-7-8

Page Count: 280

Publisher: Kykeon Media

Review Posted Online: Sept. 25, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2017

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TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD

A first novel, this is also a first person account of Scout's (Jean Louise) recall of the years that led to the ending of a mystery, the breaking of her brother Jem's elbow, the death of her father's enemy — and the close of childhood years. A widower, Atticus raises his children with legal dispassion and paternal intelligence, and is ably abetted by Calpurnia, the colored cook, while the Alabama town of Maycomb, in the 1930's, remains aloof to their divergence from its tribal patterns. Scout and Jem, with their summer-time companion, Dill, find their paths free from interference — but not from dangers; their curiosity about the imprisoned Boo, whose miserable past is incorporated in their play, results in a tentative friendliness; their fears of Atticus' lack of distinction is dissipated when he shoots a mad dog; his defense of a Negro accused of raping a white girl, Mayella Ewell, is followed with avid interest and turns the rabble whites against him. Scout is the means of averting an attack on Atticus but when he loses the case it is Boo who saves Jem and Scout by killing Mayella's father when he attempts to murder them. The shadows of a beginning for black-white understanding, the persistent fight that Scout carries on against school, Jem's emergence into adulthood, Calpurnia's quiet power, and all the incidents touching on the children's "growing outward" have an attractive starchiness that keeps this southern picture pert and provocative. There is much advance interest in this book; it has been selected by the Literary Guild and Reader's Digest; it should win many friends.

Pub Date: July 11, 1960

ISBN: 0060935464

Page Count: 323

Publisher: Lippincott

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1, 1960

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Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

BAREFOOT

Privileged 30-somethings hide from their woes in Nantucket.

Hilderbrand’s saga follows the lives of Melanie, Brenda and Vicki. Vicki, alpha mom and perfect wife, is battling late-stage lung cancer and, in an uncharacteristically flaky moment, opts for chemotherapy at the beach. Vicki shares ownership of a tiny Nantucket cottage with her younger sister Brenda. Brenda, a literature professor, tags along for the summer, partly out of familial duty, partly because she’s fleeing the fallout from her illicit affair with a student. As for Melanie, she gets a last minute invite from Vicki, after Melanie confides that Melanie’s husband is having an affair. Between Melanie and Brenda, Vicki feels her two young boys should have adequate supervision, but a disastrous first day on the island forces the trio to source some outside help. Enter Josh, the adorable and affable local who is hired to tend to the boys. On break from college, Josh learns about the pitfalls of mature love as he falls for the beauties in the snug abode. Josh likes beer, analysis-free relationships and hot older women. In a word, he’s believable. In addition to a healthy dose of testosterone, the novel is balanced by powerful descriptions of Vicki’s bond with her two boys. Emotions run high as she prepares for death.

Nothing original, but in Hilderbrand’s hands it’s easy to get lost in the story.

Pub Date: July 2, 2007

ISBN: 978-0-316-01858-6

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15, 2007

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