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Calico Joe by John Grisham

Thursday, May 17, 2012
A surprising and moving novel of fathers and sons, forgiveness and redemption, set in the world of Major League Baseball…

Whatever happened to Calico Joe?

     It began quietly enough with a pulled hamstring. The first baseman for the Cubs AAA affiliate in Wichita went down as he rounded third and headed for home. The next day, Jim Hickman, the first baseman for the Cubs, injured his back. The team suddenly needed someone to play first, so they reached down to their AA club in Midland, Texas, and called up a twenty-one-year-old named Joe Castle. He was the hottest player in AA and creating a buzz.

In the summer of 1973 Joe Castle was the boy wonder of baseball, the greatest rookie anyone had ever seen.  The kid from Calico Rock, Arkansas dazzled Cub fans as he hit home run after home run, politely tipping his hat to the crowd as he shattered all rookie records.

Calico Joe quickly became the idol of every baseball fan in America, including Paul Tracey, the young son of a hard-partying and hard-throwing Mets pitcher. On the day that Warren Tracey finally faced Calico Joe, Paul was in the stands, rooting for his idol but also for his Dad. Then Warren threw a fastball that would change their lives forever…

In John Grisham’s new novel the baseball is thrilling, but it’s what happens off the field that makes CALICO JOE a classic.

Goodreads Summary

Eleven year-old PauI Tracey idolizes Joe Castle, the greatest-ever young player out of the Cub’s farm teams.  Paul is also the son of Warren Tracey, an on again – off again – alcoholic, abusive, jealous New York pitcher.  Paul dreads, yet looks forward to the day when his dad will face Joe Castle in a game; “My father versus my hero.”  When Paul, who knows his father’s “old school” rules, sees cues that his dad is going to put Joe in his place, Paul knows what’s going to happen.  The horror of that moment lingers with him all his life…until he hears that his estranged father is dying of cancer.  That starts Paul on a journey to attempt to bring some peace to the wrong that was done in the summer of 1973.
My husband has no fond memories of Little League although he wasn’t bullied about his play after every game by an abusive dad.  Reading the story was fun because the Cubs mentioned, Kessinger, Banks, Monday, were the only team I followed in all the years I’ve lived in Chicago.  Using the Cubs, with their loyal, always optimistic, always disappointed fans, for this story of sports triumph and tragedy was a perfect choice.  Paul’s relationship with his dad is depressing.  Joe Castle’s relationship with his family and small town supporters is heart-warming.  Grisham somehow brings the two together and makes the resolution feel complete…although not “right” to this reader.  The story is entertaining but unsettling; except for Joe Castle and his brothers – the characters didn’t charm me.

Three Stars

*Reviewed by Colleen*

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This product or book may have been distributed for review, this in no way affects my opinions or reviews.