“When I consider the odds against me watching baseball on Sabbath (100 to 1?), going fishing on Sabbath (1,000 to 1?), and doing both along with Papa because Everett, Peter, Irwin, Mama and the twins have all vanished at just the right moment to make it all possible (1,000,000 to 1?), I fell as if my life has left the world of odds-making and entered the world of Miracles.”
From the first pages, I was drawn into this coming of age story of four brothers growing up in the 1960’s. It’s a small town in Oregon and all the boys idolize their father, a former professional baseball player who was always on the verge of playing in the majors. As the boys tell the story, first the Korean war stepped in and dad was called to the army. Instead of fighting, he played ball for Uncle Sam, but it still pulled him away from his big major league break. When the book opens, dad has hurt his pitching hand in an industrial accident. His thumb is crushed and so are his baseball dreams. But his sons refuse to give up on him.
While Hugh Chance’s baseball past and future become a major storyline in the book, it is the lives of the boys that really drew me in. They reminded me so much of my own childhood – and having the opportunity to step back into the simplicity and laughter of our younger days is such a treasure. Narrated by the boys, each chapter held me captive, as if I was reminiscing right alongside them.
I really enjoyed Duncan’s writing style and despite the length, the pace never slowed. My only complaint would be when the boys went to college. They got kind of crazy, and I felt like I didn’t want to continue my relationship with them anymore. But there is something so natural and clever about the way Duncan evolved these characters. Like it was meant to be that they would grow out of that phase, and I would love them again. And I did.
4 1/2 stars (out of 5)
Published in 1992