by John H. Ritter
Overall: 4 out of 5 stars
Alfredo “Stats” Pagano has grown up in Fenway Park. Papa Pagano’s hot dog stand has been in the family for decades and they have season tickets. Stats has a particular friendship with the Boston Red Sox’s young hotshot pitcher, Billee Orbitt, who has just entered a slump; Stats’ heart defect is acting up and he needs surgery; and Pops finally reveals the family’s financial troubles to Stats and his older brother, Mark. Stats and Billee investigate what they’re sure is a new curse at Fenway and try to figure out how to break it. Meanwhile, Mark is in danger of losing his perfect season record as little league shortstop and playing in the all-star game against Japan at Fenway Park. Oh and Pops is still mourning the death of Stats’ and Mark’s mother four years ago. So, there’s a lot going on.
It took me a little while to get into this one, but I’m glad I stuck it out. It’s an original story, and the moments between Stats and Billee (and pretty much all the other characters, including his brother) are touching. Stats and his brother are close and care for each other and put the family first. The ending is very sweet and more than a little contrived with how the money troubles and heart condition get resolved. But overall, good themes and really good tension in the story. I wasn’t quite expecting the story to wrap up so quickly and when it did. When the CD belted out “THE END” I jumped a little and then rewound a couple of tracks to relisten. Sure enough, things had wrapped up so quickly I had just missed them. But overall, really great, and a perfect summer book – especially if you live in Boston and/or like baseball!
Note: I had this book as an audiobook, narrated by James Colby, who did a great job with all the Boston accents!