I have half dozen un-read books on my Kindle at any given time. I actually downloaded Calico Joe a few weeks ago right after my last book club meeting. You see, Calico Joe was my book club's pick for June -- baseball, fathers and sons, makes sense. I had even "pinned it" a few months ago as a must read. But for some reason I just wasn't excited about reading it.
What can I say other than I loved this book? Yes, I know I was not motivated to read it but once I started it, I was not motivated to do anything other than finish it. John Grisham hooked me from the beginning.
The first chapter introduces Paul, and his dying, estranged father, Warren Tracey, a former major league pitcher. We learn that Warren left his family after being released from the Mets in the fall of 1973.
In the following chapter we are introduced to Joe Castle, a rookie phenomenon who makes it to the Majors with the Cubs in the summer of 1973 breaking record after record. As Joe's career takes off, Warren's is waning. Then one fateful evening at Shea Stadium their careers intersect and no one is ever the same.
The story is told from Paul's point of view and goes back and forth from his childhood to present but it's easy to follow. It's fiction - fictional players and fictional games. Grisham did a good job of mixing in a few real players as well as discussing the rivalry between the Cubs and the Cardinals and the obnoxious New York fans.
Don't get me wrong; the baseball scenes are thrilling, and you find yourself rooting for the players, but it's what happens behind the scenes that really keeps you interested. This book is about so much more than baseball. If you are looking for anything other than a feel-good story about relationships between father and son, triumphs, regrets and doing the right thing then you may be disappointed.
I am not sure what I was expecting but I will tell you that I was not disappointed. (Yes, I finished the book in a matter of hours.) It's an easy read and a great story. I think that you will enjoy it whether or not you love baseball, but I will let you know what the book club says.
I give this book 3 ½ balls out of 4.
AtHomePlate.com writes its book reviews with the following rating scale in mind:
Four Balls: An exceptional book that truly earns a walk straight to the local book store to get a copy.
Three Balls: This book stands out from its peers and is highly recommended.
Two Balls: A book worth reading/owning and is usually above average.
One Ball: This book has something to say but is nothing special.
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