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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Review: Calico Joe by John Grisham

Title: Calico Joe
Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday
Publication Date: 
 April 10, 2012
Reviewer: Ethan

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

Review: Americans have a longstanding love affair with baseball. There is something about attending a ballpark, watching a game amongst friends and family, and even tossing a ball in the backyard that is uniquely American. Author John Grisham, known mostly for his taut legal thrillers, takes a welcome departure in his latest novel, "Calico Joe". 

For a short time in the summer of 1973, Paul Tracey was obsessed with baseball. In part, he wanted to relate to his father Warren, a pitcher for the Mets who was more interested in playing ball and partying than spending time with his family. Beyond even the family issues, Paul, and the rest of America, was drawn to the sport by the Cub's phenomenal rookie, Joe Castle. 

Joe Castle arrived to the majors after the Cubs lost both of their first base men to injuries. A 21-year-old rookie from the small town of Calico Rock, Arkansas, Joe entered the major league scene with a bang. The rookie hit the most home runs for any first time player, shattering records becoming baseball's overnight sensation, and earning the nickname Calico Joe. 

Young Paul Tracey was excited when the Cubs and his idol, Calico Joe, finally came to town to play his father's Mets. Seemingly the perfect baseball game, Paul enthusiastically rooted for his two favorite players, Joe and his father. That day was suddenly changed forever as Joe came to bat and Warren Tracey threw a pitch that would change the lives of everyone involved. 

Taking a break from his usual legal fare, John Grisham brings his accessible storytelling to the world of baseball. The combination works perfectly. Grisham's love for the game shines through with accurate descriptions that both pay homage to the history of the sport while advancing the narrative. As he does so well in his best novels, Grisham fills his world with genuine characters that readers will have no trouble relating to. At less than 200 pages, this novel is paced with the perfect amount of suspense, never feeling rushed of unfinished. By combining a nostalgic look back at America's favorite pastime with riveting characters, John Grisham has knocked this one out of the park. 

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