THE FATHER...THE SON...AND THE SWEET SIXTEEN

A COLLEGE'S BASKETBALL DISASTER

A St. Bonaventure alumnus and faculty member chronicles the school’s basketball scandal.

Scandals in college athletics are almost a blip in today’s world of rapid telecommunications and cynicism. Wieland, who now serves as a lecturer in the school’s Journalism and Mass Communications department, seems to acknowledge this reality, but he also internalizes “a college’s basketball disaster.” It is the author’s closeness to the characters and setting that puts a face on an issue that almost seems to be something new. Wieland relates how an idyllic Franciscan university got swept up in the commonplace reality of money. The details of the story are fascinating, but perhaps not for the reasons one might expect. The reader is not inundated with the seemingly lavish aspects of big-time college sports, but rather the mundane pieces of daily academics and school survival. The book’s theme revolves around the changing of a single grade of a single student basketball player. The involvement of many individuals, their actions and their conflicting accounts of those actions sometimes read like a TV crime drama, one that poses the question of what really happened. What really happened is fairly clear to Wieland, however, and he pulls no punches in his criticisms. The chapters on the school president’s apparent boondoggle land purchase or salaries sometimes seem like gossipy payback. His recollections create unmistakable good guys and bad guys. Those same recollections, though, could still leave the reader doubting. That is because Wieland is a journalist who writes like a journalist. He bases his work on interviews with the figures involved and the investigative reports resulting from the scandal, but these are not formally cited as sources and no citations are provided. There are also a few statements that seem vague, such as, “It was a common belief” or “He is said to have told the agent…” Despite using an appropriate number of quotes, it is sometimes hard to tell who is doing the talking. Ultimately, Wieland is an authoritative source, especially considering his ties with the university. He sometimes waxes nostalgic about the days when athletics was not a business, but he also acknowledges similar improprieties in his day. Although he despises the actions of some who perpetuate this big business, he is wise enough to know that the problems are systemic and historical. Wieland offers a remedy for these evils, but has no illusions about their coming to pass anytime soon. A captivating, informative account that goes beyond local interest.

 

Pub Date: Nov. 2, 2011

ISBN: 978-0615478128

Page Count: 130

Publisher: Brown Hill

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2012

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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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More about grief and tragedy than romance.

FRIENDS FOREVER

Five friends meet on their first day of kindergarten at the exclusive Atwood School and remain lifelong friends through tragedy and triumph.

When Gabby, Billy, Izzie, Andy and Sean meet in the toy kitchen of the kindergarten classroom on their first day of school, no one can know how strong the group’s friendship will remain. Despite their different personalities and interests, the five grow up together and become even closer as they come into their own talents and life paths. But tragedy will strike and strike again. Family troubles, abusive parents, drugs, alcohol, stress, grief and even random bad luck will put pressure on each of them individually and as a group. Known for her emotional romances, Steel makes a bit of a departure with this effort that follows a group of friends through young adulthood. But even as one tragedy after another befalls the friends, the impact of the events is blunted by a distant narrative style that lacks emotional intensity. 

More about grief and tragedy than romance.

Pub Date: July 24, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-385-34321-3

Page Count: 322

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: Nov. 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2012

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