Monday, June 1, 2009

A Crackerjack of a Book and a Giveaway

A mere three years ago I picked up a book by a brand new author who quickly became a part of my "Must Read" list. Allison Pittman has continued to churn out the books, and she has proved to be a multi-faceted writer. Her Crossroads of Grace series was a delightful historical fiction trilogy (I reviewed the final book here) that blended great stories with beautiful messages of hope and grace that can transform even the most seemingly hopeless of lives. Following that she absolutely charmed me with Saturdays with Stella (see my review here), the story of how she "learned to sit, stay, and come when God calls me." I don't even like dogs, and I alternately laughed and winced with conviction as she shared the spiritual lessons she gleaned at obedience school with Stella.

Now she has branched out in yet another direction with Stealing Home (published by Random House), and the message of hope and redemption shines through. And although I prefer "hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet" to baseball, I was not at all surprised that the book captured my attention from the very beginning. For no matter the background, deep within the heart of every human being is a longing for acceptance, forgiveness, grace, and a new start.

Set in the tiny town of Picksville, Missouri in 1905, Stealing Home is the story of Donald "Duke" Dennison, the player on whom the Chicago Cubs have pinned their hopes. Unfortunately, he's pretty much drowned his hopes in the bottle, and he's now been sent to Picksville to sober up anonymously. And it's the story of Ellie Jane Voyant, a reclusive town spinster who hides her hurts from childhood in the same way that she barricades herself in the ticket booth of the railroad station. She has reluctantly agreed to be Duke's conscience chaperone and provides a room for him in the house where she lives with her father. And it's the story of Ned Clovis, the clerk at the town's feed store. He's enamored with baseball, the Duke, and Ellie Jane - not necessarily in that order - and he alone can decide what he's willing to give (or give up) to have them all in his life. And it's the story of Morris, the twelve -year-old African-American boy whom the town is happy to trust with their errands, but not with their acceptance or respect.

When the Duke discovers Morris has a natural gift for pitching a baseball, he takes him under his wing to refine his talent and determines to find a way to make Morris one of the first African-American players accepted in the lily white sport. And a good place to start is right in tiny Picksville. But will the process unite or divide the town? What will it mean for the future of Morris and Duke? And will these four wounded individuals (Duke, Ellie Jane, Ned, and Morris) be able to tear down their walls and find love and healing?

This is a deeply moving story for the heart. Allison Pittman has knocked another one out of the ballpark. The only caveat I have is to read it with a box of tissues nearby! (Peanuts and Cracker Jacks optional.)

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?

Allison Pittman spent seventeen years as a high school English teacher, and then shunned the advice of “experts,” quit her day job and set out to write novels that bring glory to God. She relishes inspiring other writers and leading the theater arts group at her church. She and her husband and three sons live in Universal City, Texas. I always enjoy Allison's blog, and her website is great also.

Random House has provided a copy of this book for one of you! Just leave a comment on this post by 6:00 p.m. CDT Tuesday (6/2/09) and I will draw a winner. (Continental US residents only, please).

Happy Reading!


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Pat S. said...

Sounds like a winner. Count me in.

Pat S.
Lago Vista, Tx

Rachel said...

Sounds like a great read. Have you ever read Karen Hancock?

Skoots1moM said...

love me some baseball....
and crackerjacks.
used to love going to the baseball games with my daddy
put me in, plz!

Mel said...

that sounds like an excellent story, as i was reading the review i was thinking i bet that would be an amazing movie...while i don't like baseball i love stories of redemption and movies too.

Brook said...

I love her books and was so disappointed to learn that the library wasn't planning to buy this one. I would love to win!We're a huge 'ball' family as in they play and I watch while reading a book. :)

Beverlydru said...

I have not read anything by her yet. Would love to start with this one. Thank you so much for these awesome give-aways!!

Cathy said...

Linda this sounds like a great book and I enjoy reading your reviews. I would love a chance to win this.

How did you become a book reviewier? If you don't mind my asking. If you don't want to answer here you can answer on my blog.



2nd Cup of Coffee said...

A well-written review. Count me in.

Pam from alertandorientedx4 said...

Ooooo...would love to read it!

windycindy said...

I adore this author's style of writing. Our family lives and breathes baseball! Sounds like
a wonderful book for summer
reading. Please count me in.
Many thanks, Cindi

adge said...

I like the way you introduced the author, please enter me for this contest. Thanks.


My ADHD Me said...

Sounds like a "feel good" book.

Who doesn't like to feel good?

Carole said...

I thought Allison's Crossroads of Grace was a wonderful series and plan to read everything she writes. I love it when an author goes in a different direction and definitely want to read Stealing Home - although I'm with you on the "hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet"! Thank you for the chance to win a copy, Linda.

cjarvis [at] bellsouth [dot] net

Skoots1moM said...

i got my Wiehl book in the mail'll be next on my list after NEW MOON