Set in 1962, Ken White’s novel Getaway Day feels like a traditional baseball fan’s memoir. With the same gentle tone of Roger Kahn’s classic The Boys of Summer, yet with the same driven focus on the individual fan as Nick Hornby’s Fever Pitch (albeit the latter a book about English football, later turned into a wretched rom-com film about baseball), Getaway Day moseys along much like a baseball season itself. Kennedy is in the White House, Brian Epstein has just signed The Beatles to a management contract, the year is progressing as it should and the San Francisco Giants are optimistic about the year to come.
Well, just as a sudden injury, an unexpected trade, or a clubhouse scandal can change a team’s fortunes, so too can life throw a fastball behind one’s ear. Mikey Wright, age 13 that summer of 1962, finds out his father has been diagnosed with cancer. As one might suspect, this becomes a truly existential moment for both father and son. Somewhat improbably, but we’ll let that go, Mikey starts traveling about the US seeking to make his dying father’s greatest dream a reality. In the meanwhile, the baseball season beats on like waves in the background.
One would be utterly heartless to not find this book charming. It may be classified as a Young Adult novel, but it’s rather better written than 90% of the books in that genre. Getaway Day has charm without becoming maudlin, and adventure without becoming frantic. Ken White has created a fine read which comfortably takes its place amidst that most honored of American genres: Baseball as Metaphor for the Meaning of Life. Well done.
|Page Count||396 pages|
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