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A fronte praecipitium a tergo lupi. (In front of you, a precipice. Behind you, wolves.)

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

WISH Review--Knocked it out of the Park

I came to my liking for baseball late. Seeing a game on TV gave me the hives and sent me running for a book. It took going to my first real game before I understood my sister's longtime love affair with watching her Boys of Summer. It took listening to the crack of the bat and the calls of the peanut vendors, and smelling the new mowed grass and popcorn and leather. Now I got to heckle the pitcher and he'd actually hear me! It was merely a bush league game but I was hooked.

Jake Smith's book WISH puts you there. You feel your muscles stretch as you sling that ball to first in a double play. You smell the pine tar as you rub it into the bat. You feel the skid marks on your chest as James dives for a base. You feel his anguished worry that he won't get the mojo back long enough to play that one major league game his dying son has begged him for. You watch in the middle of the night with anxious parents for any sign that the tiny baseball nut in the hospital bed will rally from his coma.

The story is about a boy with leukemia who relapses. He loves everything about baseball and can tell you every stat and skill. His dad is a coach who played college ball but gave it up for his family. Aaron's dying wish is to see his dad play one major league game for the Detroit Tigers. This book is about that journey.

WISH is about sacrifice. It's about a man sacrificing his major league career for the promise of a family. It's about that family spending countless hours trying to help their son wring that last little bit of life away from the demons of his disease. It's about a father's love for his son and a son's love for his dad and their love for baseball. It's about winning battles over self and disease and fear and reaching into the dark, dank basement of your soul to open the doors and let the light stream in. It's about finding faith and the battle to keep it bright as you bash through the dark forces that whisper poison in your ear, telling you that you'll never make it.

I rarely give out 5 stars. This book earned every one. I couldn't put the book down until I'd found out whether Aaron lived. Jake Smith's words wove around me so completely and so brilliantly that he put me out on that field beneath the bright lights, fingering the laces of my mitt. I cared whether J-Mac made it to The Show so his son's wish came true. More than that, I cried like a baby at the ending.

WISH is worth every penny you spend for it. For me, it knocked one out of the park. You can get this book here.

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