Reviewed by Phee Paradise
A Season of Miracles
By Rusty Whitener
It seems appropriate to review a book about baseball on the opening day of the World Series. But the Little League games in A Season of Miracles aren’t as momentous as the Fall Classic. On the other hand, the story is about much more important things than playing a game. As Zack, the main character says, it’s about “something else.”
Zack is twelve and it’s his last year in Little League. His team, the Robins, finished in third place last year, but he has a feeling this is their year. His feeling grows stronger when he meets Rafer, a strange kid who can hit the ball out of the park. Zack and Donnie make sure Rafer is drafted by the Robins. It’s pretty easy to do, because Rafer is “touched” and doesn’t respond to people, so no other team wants him. But he loves to hit and lets Zack show him how to field and other details of the game.
Zack and his friend, Donnie, are amazing kids. They take Rafer under their wings, even outside of the game. They take him swimming and stick up for him at school. Zack even visits him at home, even though his father is pretty scary. Donnie’s father is a pastor and Donnie’s love of God makes his motivation obvious, but Zack is just a good kid who wants to do the right thing. That desire eventually arouses his curiosity about God and he goes to church with Donnie. But his own dad, who is a good man and loving father, is angry with God and Zack is torn about his growing interest in spiritual things.
Baseball is the heart of the book and there are a lot of exciting descriptions of games. It’s easy to catch the intensity of a group of twelve year olds who believe winning or losing defines them. But there are much deeper themes that Whitener skillfully weaves into the stories of the games and the boys’ friendships. The book is also about fathers and sons. Most of the fathers are excellent role models and the boys strive to please them. Finding God is another theme, but although Zack has some fairly long conversations with Donnie and his father about salvation, his search for the truth about God is so intertwined with the story of baseball and friendship that it doesn’t come across as preachy.
Even if you don’t love baseball, I think you’ll find these boys are worth getting to know and you’ll gladly root for them and hurt with them. The events of their last Little League season matter on a universal scale, not just in the small world of boys.
Pros: A great ensemble of characters, exemplifying the best of life in small town America. Deep themes are woven throughout the story, with multiple plots and subplots that raise it above the baseball theme.
Cons: If you don’t like baseball, you might find the many detailed accounts of games tedious. There is probably a bit too much time spent on the salvation message. It occasionally pauses the story, instead of complementing it.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
www.rustywhitener.com and www.aseasonofmiraclesmovie.com. Videos and book club discussion questions are also available at www.aseasonofmiraclesbook.com.
“A Season of Miracles is a must read for anyone who has ever played youth baseball. I read the book, and was reacquainted with my childhood. In the midst of an enjoyable read that took me down memory lane was a touching, challenging and beautiful story about how God can use the unlikeliest among us to draw us to Him.”—Matt Diaz, outfielder, Atlanta Braves
“Baseball, inspiration and childhood memories—a great combination. I couldn’t put it down!”—Richard Sterban, bass singer for The Oak Ridge Boys
“Rusty Whitener weaves a deft tale of young friendship and the curve balls of faith, the whole story seasoned with sunshine and the leathery scent of baseball gloves!”—Ray Blackston, author of Flabbergasted
“A Season of Miracles is a heartwarming all American story of small town boys and Little League baseball. You’ll be cheering this captivating bunch of characters all the way home both in their game of baseball and the bigger game of life.”—Ann Gabhart, award-winning author of The Outsider
ABOUT THE BOOK
Gunning for the championship is all that matters until twelve-year-old Zack meets Rafer, a boy whose differences make him an outcast but whose abilities on the baseball field make him the key to victory.
Admired for his contribution to the team, Rafer turns everyone’s expectations upside down, bestowing a gift to Zack and his teammates that forces them to think—is there more to life than winning or losing? And what is this thing called grace?
If you would like to read the first chapter of A Season of Miracles, go HERE.
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Reviewed by Phee Paradise