Review & Giveaway: Calico Joe by John Grisham
Genre: Fiction, Sports
Publish Date: April 10, 2012
Format: Hardcover | 208 pages
Rating: 4 of 5
Paul Tracey’s father, a former big-league baseball pitcher for the Mets, has just been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. Paul hasn’t seen his father, Warren, in years. Neither has his mother or sister, not that any of them really care, for Warren Tracey was not a good father, not a nice man, and in looking back on his life, not a very good human being.
Flashback to 1973. Joe Castle was an up and coming rookie for the Cubs, a future hall-of-famer. He enthralled fans and shattered batting records hitting home run after home run. It was a magical summer until August, when the Cubs faced the Mets, and Warren Tracey threw a fastball that would change everyone’s lives forever.
The novel alternates between 1973 and thirty years later in 2003. Told from the point of view of Paul, we experience his life as a young little league player who loved baseball, kept scrapbooks and newspaper clippings of his favorite players and teams but never received encouragement or affection from his dad. Thirty years later Paul has abandoned the game he loved. Now that Warren is dying, Paul wants him to face up to what happened that summer, to find closure and perhaps forgiveness.
At only 200 pages, this is a short novel written in an easy to read style that both baseball and non-baseball fans will enjoy. Real life teams and players are mixed in with the fictional characters and it is obvious Grisham is a fan of the game. There is enough baseball detail to keep the fans happy but not so much as to overwhelm his longtime legal thriller fans.
As a long-suffering Cub fan, the descriptions of the baseball games and the players on those 1973 teams brought back many memories for me, both happy and sad, of those long ago days. Non-baseball fans bear with me here. In an Amazon Q&A Grisham admits to being a Cardinal fan. There is a huge rivalry between the Cardinal and the Cubs. So it didn’t surprise me that he made Calico Joe a player for the Cubs. One more heartbreak for the die-hard fans. Even though it was fictional, it brought back all the emotion of the real life disappointments I’ve endured following many Cub teams over the decades.
This is a charming, emotional story with a touching ending. Highly recommended.
The publisher has generously offered two copies for giveaway.
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Contest Now Closed
Source: Review copy.
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