Wednesday, July 15, 2009
Allison Pittman's Stealing Home ~ Reviewed
Stealing Home: A Novel
by Allison K. Pittman
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: Multnomah Books (April 14, 2009)
It's 1905 and the Chicago Cubs are banking on superstar Donald "Duke" Dennison's golden arm to help them win the pennant. Only one thing stands between Duke and an unprecedented ten thousand dollar contract: alcohol.
That's when sportswriter David Voyant whisks Duke to the one-horse town of Picksville, Missouri, so he can sober up in anonymity. He bides his time flirting with Ellie Jane Voyant, his unofficial chaperone, who would rather hide herself in the railway station ticket booth than face the echoes of childhood taunts. Ned Clovis, the feed store clerk, has secretly loved Ellie Jane since childhood, but he loves baseball and the Duke almost as much-until he notices Ellie Jane may be succumbing to the star's charm. Then there's Morris, a twelve-year-old Negro boy, whose only dream is to break away from Picksville. When Duke discovers his innate talent for throwing a baseball, Morris might just have found his way out. Four individuals, each living in haunted isolation, each harboring a secret passion. Providence brings them together. Tragedy threatens to tear them apart. Will love be enough to bring them home.
Home is a place of belonging – a place of safety – a place where you are accepted and loved for who you are and where you can find strength and forgiveness. Duke Dennison and Morris are two people who have never had a real home. Even though Duke has reached fame with his baseball talent, he has been unable to overcome the desire to hide his deep-seated pain in a bottle of liquor. Morris is just a young twelve-year-old boy, but the color of his skin and the harsh treatment of those who are supposed to be his family have turned his heart toward bigger things, and his focus has become one of escaping to a different place where he can be the man he wants to be.
These two very unlikely characters meet up with two even more unlikelier people in the small town of Picksville. Ellie Jane Voyant is the spinster who works the ticket booth at the local train station, and Ned Clovis is the deaf man who runs the local feed store. These two have grown up together and are as familiar to each other as the air that they breathe. However, when Duke Dennison comes to town, nothing is ever the same again.
As Duke rediscovers his hunger for baseball, he finds that the love for the game unites people like nothing else can. The game transforms the town, ignites dreams long forgotten and births new desires within hearts that have long ceased to hope for change. Self-discovery takes place in the most unusual ways, and suddenly the longing to have something more, something more meaningful than the everyday routine of before takes hold and begins to transform lives.
Stealing Home confronts a myriad of issues; racism, addiction, fear, hopelessness, hope and salvation. All of these and more are woven within a story that is part coming-of-age, part love story and part hometown adventure. I was drawn into this story and not able to turn loose until I reached the final page. The ending…it wasn’t what I was expected, and while realistic considering the setting, wasn’t what I longed for. But somehow even the ending fit the overall tone of the novel and left me knowing that God alone is the answer for all of us whatever our circumstance.
Truly, it’s hard for me to sum up this novel. It was beautiful, harsh, dark and light all rolled together. It left me hopeful but kind of sad too. I am pleased to recommend Stealing Home to everyone who enjoys a historical novel with timeless themes of the human condition and the hope that God offers each of us to overcome our own depravity.
Reviewed by: Kim Ford