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A charming story about the wonder of childhood dreams and first love.
Owen Cross grew up loving the game of baseball and a girl named Micky Dullahan. He leaves his southern town and goes to college with dreams of the major leagues and a longing for Micky back home. Owen grew up in a middle-class home and she grew up in a troubled Shantytown. He loved her from the first time they met.
Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost and that it is often hardest to say things to the ones we love the most. Now he’s counting on her love to save him.
Number of Pages: 416
Vendor: Thomas Nelson
|Publication Date: 2018|
"This is a powerful story of grief, love, forgiveness, and holy mystery, and I loved it. Billy Coffey is a master storyteller." Lauren Denton, USA Today bestselling author of The Hideaway
Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now hes counting on the other to save him.
Owen Crosss father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his fathers firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leaguesand an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan.
Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most.
From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.
"In one evening, a single baseball game, Coffey invites us into a lifetime. With lyrical prose and aching description we join Owen Cross on a journey of love, loss, faith, the unexpectedand Americas favorite pastime." Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley and The Austen Escape
'Steal Away Home's blend of magical realism, baseball, and Southern flavor will pull readers in and keep them engaged through the very last inning.'
'This rich and masterful tale is touched by the miraculous and is cleverly delivered as the first-person recollections of a seasoned catcher. Fans of America's favorite pastime will enjoy this book from page one. As the main character's memories crowd in between the third and fourth inning, there is a universal and undeniable draw to the complexities of growing up and chasing a dream or love. Coffey has composed an incredible literary journey of life, faith, love and baseball.'
ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: female2 Stars Out Of 5Not my favorite Coffey bookMarch 29, 2018ADFehlArden, NCAge: 25-34Gender: femaleQuality: 3Value: 3Meets Expectations: 2Owen Cross is a young boy from a lower middle-class family who just happens to have superior natural talent when it comes to the game of baseball. His father is a hard-working but embittered man nursing a broken spirit after a career ending injury brought his own professional sports dreams to a screeching halt. Now the father puts all the hopes on the son to bring pride and fame back to the family name. From an early age, Owen shows laser focus when it comes to his MLB dreams. That is, until the fateful day he comes face to face with Shantytown girl Michaela "Micky" Dullahan. From that day forward, professional baseball and Micky will play a constant tug-o-war on Owen's heart and mind.
The time period of Steal Away Home alternates between grown Owen as a Minor League player in the early 2000s and his childhood spanning the 1980s and 90s. In the retrospective chapters, or "innings" as Coffey playful titles them here, we follow Owen from the first meetings with Micky, through junior high and high school up to the day he leaves his hometown of Camden, Virginia to attend college in Ohio.
Owen always has to keep his relationship with Micky as secret. Though they go to the same school, they avoid any acknowledgement of each other beyond furtive glances. It's explained that because Micky is from Shantytown, socially she's basically considered the town's unclean, untouchable, too-poor-to-be-anything-but-pitied/reviled-from-a-distance population. Hard to make sense of this though, when you consider that Owen's economic situation wasn't really ALL that much better: his school clothes primarily come off the JC Penney clearance racks, his mom makes minimum wage at the town library and his dad works as the janitor at Owen's school. Owen flatly points out that his baseball skills are literally the only thing that keeps him from being socially ostracized himself. Still, he's all about keeping his seat at the cool kids' table.
It took me about half the book to realize it, but at that point it dawned on me that I did not like Owen. The guy was pretty selfish when you get down to it. It seems like Owen never hesitated too much to throw Micky under the proverbial bus whenever his social standing was even slightly at risk. Yet Micky continued to profess love for this kid! When Micky finds a dream she wants to pursue for herself and the good of her fellow Shantytown residents, he harps on her to drop it and do what HE wants if she TRULY loves him. Nope, this reader was not having it. Micky was clearly the better soul in my book.
With the novel starting in the millennial era and periodically looking backwards, there is a mystery / possible crime story hinted at, clues to which are only given to the reader in the tiniest portions until at least the halfway point where the action on that front picks up a bit. Once Owen leaves Camden for college, we see that some characters from earlier in the story have gone missing in his time away, and certain clues hint that possible criminal activity may be linked to these characters. Be patient though, because Coffey's holding some cards up his author sleeve and he's not going to let you make sense of it all til the closing moments!
Of all of Billy Coffey's novels that I've read to date, this has not been one of my favorites. Many of the elements felt pretty underdeveloped, at least with the home drama storylines. It certainly can't be said he skimped on the baseball game sections, those portions actually dragged a bit for me. Just a lot of Owen in the dugout with his thoughts for pages on end, least until it was his turn at the plate... but it felt like he spent a lot of time on the bench for a catcher! LOL Speaking of the game though, Coffey notes at the beginning of the book that the game described here (the opening game, I think he's referring to) is actually inspired by an actual game that went down between the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees in the summer of 2001.
The romantic relationship between Owen and Micky did, at times, have a charm to it that I enjoyed. Theirs was a young relationship that was full of sweet, naive, intense promises that most of us can probably relate to on some level, remembering back to our first loves. But something there fell short for me, didn't quite hit maximum heartstring tug.
One thing I will give this book though -- even if the plot had some missed opportunities (IMO), there were some undeniably great lines of prose I would tip my hat to, if i wore one while I read. If you're familiar with Coffey's previous books and wonder about his trademark light fantasy / magical realism touch he tends to weave into his stories, it is still present here but it's much more faint than in his previous novels.
FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
SemmieAge: 35-44Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5A Story of Redemption & LoveMarch 18, 2018SemmieAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5** "Mom was right, the mob will always crucify Christ. We praise Him for His holiness and wisdom but cannot bow to His message. He stoops low for us, yet all we see is how the gods we fashion for ourselves stand taller. We would rather remain slaves to ourselves." **
Billy Coffey once again takes us to the small, rural life in the South with "Steal Away Home," a novel of following one's dreams, the haves and the have nots, finding faith, love and, oh yeah, baseball. Lots and lots of baseball.
Owen Cross has big dreams -- to one day be a Major League player. Urged on by his father who was a star pitcher until suffering an injury, Owen works day in and day out to be the best catcher and hitter that he can be. He dreams of moving on to college and then the big league one day.
But when Owen stumbles upon the mysterious and beautiful Micky Dullahan from Shantytown, a forbidden relationship develops that affects everything he has ever thought about his future.
"Steal Away Home" takes place in 2001, when Owen is 29 and still playing in the Minors for the Baltimore Orioles. When he gets called up to play one game in the Majors ... and against the New York Yankees no less! ... Owen finds himself reflecting upon his life.
Written in a back-and-forth format, Owen's story jumps between the current game (which according to the author is taken from an actual game played on June 5, 2001, under a Strawberry Moon) and times from his past -- during high school, the summer after graduation, time playing baseball at college, and time in the Minors.
It is a deeply introspective piece, really diving into the nitty gritty of life. It reveals the highs and the lows, and the moments to be lauded and the moments to be ashamed of that Owen faces, and that in all honesty we each face.
Besides being an interesting tale of baseball, and youth, and following one's dreams, and life in small-town rural America, "Steal Away Home" is so much more. It is a story of redemption; seeking and realizing that we all deserve love; believing that you are special and making your mark in life; finding our worth, and knowing that we have worth; "faith comes hardest for those who have much to lose"; and ensuring that we don't remove Jesus from our dreams.
Coffey is a master at developing deep and enigmatic, yet relatable characters. Owen is so beautifully written because, as the author notes, he most relates to Owen more than any other character he has written. Coffey is also an amazingly descriptive writer, pulling his readers deep into the scene with descriptions of New York City like "The only mountains are made of concrete and windows."
His novels usually contain some aspect of the supernatural. Coffey's latest novel has less of this than usual, although there is an incident with a train that will deeply impact the characters and their choices that does have a slight supernatural vein.
A very small disclaimer: there are a few incidents of mild cursing.
Fans of baseball stories and life in small-town Americana will enjoy "Steal Away Home."
And an extra little goodie? Musician Eddie Heinzelman composed and performed an original song for "Steal Away Home" called "Dandelion." Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmLOWvkBIsg.
Four and a half stars out of five.
Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: female3 Stars Out Of 5Lovely, Lyrical, Philosophical!March 15, 2018Rebecca ManeyGastonia, North CarolinaAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 43.5
. . . .faith comes hardest for those who have much to lose."
Folks in Shantytown had nothing to lose and everything to gain. Isolated from the fine, upstanding citizens of Camden, Virginia, they eked out an existence on the fringes of life in general. Except for Michaela Constance Dullahan, daughter of the meanest drunk in Camden; Micky dared to become herself; befriending a newcomer, Owen Cross, and falling in love with friendship.
Owen Cross has been raised up as a baseball player, and for good reason, he is extremely talented. His father has made sure that Owen's life goal is to play at the highest level, having had his own ball career cut short by a debilitating shoulder injury. Besides baseball, there is nothing in Owen's life worth more than Micky Dullahan. Their secret rendezvous on top of the hill between their homes, sharing their innermost thoughts and dreams, is a lifeline for both of them.
Sadly, everything changes on the night of their senior prom, when life and death pass before their very eyes, leaving Michaela with a pure sense of her own destiny, while Owen continues to wish that what he thought was worth everything, was at least worth something.
The context of this story is brilliant, the author using baseball as a means of delivering his own sermon about life. The weakness lies in the sheer volume of his musings, so much so that it may leave readers scratching their heads, wondering what they have just read. Crystal clear however, is the deep desire within all of us to claim a "love everlasting", illustrated so beautifully in the somewhat tragic characters of Michaela and Owen.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher. The opinions stated are entirely my own.
Cynthia4 Stars Out Of 5GreatMarch 4, 2018CynthiaQuality: 4Value: 4Meets Expectations: 4I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild, I was not required to give a favorable review. I found this book very thought out. It was a story that made you think about human nature. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great story.
LucyWVAge: 55-65Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5PoeticFebruary 27, 2018LucyWVAge: 55-65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 3Im not a baseball fan, but this book made you feel like you were in the midst of the game inside Owens head as he reflects on regrets of the past and a girl from his past. It captures life in a small southern town where the poorest can not cross the barriers to associate with other classes. Owen and Micky break that barrier on a hill, but the love of baseball, religion, poor choices, and unforeseen circumstances surrounded in mystery keep you reading to find the answers. I was very disappointed in the ending, as my questions werent answered, but I rated this four stars because of the poetic phrasing and the fact that I couldnt put it down. This novel wont be everyones cup of tea, but to experience the words written in beauty should be experienced. The family dynamics arent idealistic, but are raw, gritty, and real.
I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.