James McConnells one wish is that his nine-year-old son will finally be healthy enough to play a game of catch. Then he and his wife, Emily, receive news theyve dreaded: Aarons cancer has relapsed.
As the family steels themselves for a draining treatment regimen in yet another hospital, Aaron receives the gift of a lifetimea personal visit from one of his favorite professional baseball playersand the chance to make a bold request, his wish: to see his dad play in one major league game.
A former college standout, James fears he doesnt have the talent it takes, even for one game, and that hell miss what could be Aarons precious last weeks. Yet how can he refuse his dying sons wish?
Poignant and triumphant, Wish is the story of a fathers love, a familys perseverance, and the miracles that can happen when you believe in the impossible.
Smith weaves emotional tension into this spiritual story of leukemia and baseball.
A nine-year-old boy suffering from leukemia makes a selfless wish that challenges his father, in Jake Smiths moving Wish. Their shared love of baseball adds depth to the father-son relationship.
Smith introduces his first work of fiction with the dramatic moment when James McConnell learns that his son, Aaron, first diagnosed with cancer at age five, is again critically ill. James and his wife, Emily, had dared to believe that Aarons five months of complete remission would continue indefinitely. Instead, Aaron, his parents, and his six-year-old sister, Elizabeth, move into a family suite at a pediatric cancer research hospital in southern central Michigan, where he faces more aggressive treatment.
The familys emotional tension about Aarons illness looms large in this story. When James and Emily meet with Aarons new oncologist, Dr. Barna, to discuss his chances for recovery, the doctor tells them that finding a bone marrow donor match for the boys rare tissue type is the best chance for his long-term survival. Define long-term, Emily responds, wanting the most definitive prognosis the doctor cant give.
An effective use of analogy heightens the books poignant message. For example, when Aaron begins to improve, the family attends a Detroit Tigers home game. James, who abandoned his dream of playing professional baseball to marry Emily, shares with Aaron the thrill of walking onto an major-league field before the game starts. A religious man, James describes the space as a cathedral and compares the middle of the field to a sanctuary. Smith writes, He felt so small, so insignificant, and everything around him seemed so Â
Smith convincingly shows Emily and Jamess devotion to each other and their children.
A revealing moment occurs just as the family prepares to leave the hospital after Aarons
treatment has ended. Concerned about Aarons lack of enthusiasm for feeling better and going home, James reminds his son that he is a cancer survivor. His son replies, No, Dad, thats just it. Im not a survivor. Im just Â
Smiths competent prose style and flawless editing reflect his professional experience as a magazine editor and author of nonfiction articles and books. A well-researched story, Wish offers an insightful look into the perils of childhood leukemia. While the focus on baseball may not interest some readers, this story of a family struggling to overcome their sons devastating illness holds universal appeal.
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