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Annotation: A small-town boy questions everything he holds to be true when his father is accused of murder.
Catalog Number: #112596
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2015
Edition Date: 2015
Pages: 342 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 1-423-19738-0
ISBN 13: 978-1-423-19738-6
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2014042087
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 8 Up Braden's dad is in jail, awaiting trial for allegedly killing a police officer, supposedly backing up, swerving, and running the officer down during a routine traffic stop. Braden dreads having to testify. His father is a well-known religious radio host, and Braden's own faith is wavering as he wrestles with the realities of the relationship he has with his father. He wants to believe that his father is a good man, but the facts in the case seem to point in another direction. Flickers of his dad's drinking, violence, and judgmental tendencies make Braden increasingly apprehensive about providing his version of the events of the night the officer was killed. He also has lingering doubts about why his older brother would leave home, not returning for more than a decade. When he arrives back to care for Braden during their dad's incarceration, Braden eventually learns the truth: his dad disapproved of the brother's secrets and beat him mercilessly. The story flashes forward and back in time, interweaving baseball vignettes as metaphors for strained relationships. The sophisticated pacing requires effort to push through; this is a multilayered story that provides meaty sustenance for those seeking insights into rifts between fathers and sons. Readers who do push through will find a poignant look at the messiness of love, faith, and humanity. VERDICT A strong debut for readers who enjoyed E.M. Kokie's Personal Effects (Candlewick, 2012). Leah Krippner, Harlem High School, Machesney Park, IL
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* High-school pitching star Braden Raynor watches helplessly as cops surround his father, Mart, who hosts an Evangelical radio show, and arrest him for the murder of a police officer. Terrified and guilt-ridden, Braden fears that he is at fault for his father's actions and that Mart acted out of love for him. Initially relieved to hear that his estranged older brother, Trey, will be coming back to act as his guardian, Braden is grieved to discover that Trey still openly despises Mart. Worse, Trey has abandoned his faith, which, along with baseball, is an essential part of Braden's bond with his father. Suspense builds as flashbacks reveal that Mart has constructed an emotionally possessive and manipulative relationship with Braden, leaving Braden to equate loyalty to his father with loyalty to God. Braden is a deeply sympathetic character, slowly coming to realize that he has been systematically broken by the only person he trusts. Gilbert respectfully and sensitively handles themes of faith, religion, and family t to mention the importance of baseball illustrate how tightly small towns cling, often destructively, to their own. Fans of Carl Dueker's multilayered sports novels, Harlan Coben's psychological thrillers, or Bryan Bliss' No Parking at the End Times (2014) will all be captivated by Gilbert's moving debut.
Voice of Youth Advocates
With a ninety-four-mile-an-hour fastball and certain to be a first-round draft pick when he graduates, sixteen-year-old Braden Raynor has always defined himself through baseball and his Christian beliefs. As a child at a GiantsûCardinal game, he even received a sign from God, catching a foul ball. Braden knew this meant his father and big brother, Trey, would get along and his family would not fall apart as he feared. Ten years later, Braden desperately needs to cling to that sign. He has not seen Trey for five years, and the police have just arrested his father, a popular Christian radio host, for murderand Braden is the key witness. Baseball, however, may no longer be his salvation, as he will be playing against the nephew of the police officer his father allegedly ran down. Braden faces an impossible choice. As a Christian, he cannot lie, but telling the truth will convict his father of first-degree murder.Gilbert's dense, introspective novel offers an unusual look at a teen forced to choose between his heartfelt religious beliefs and his loyalty to his abusive, manipulative father. Her characters are distinctive, although not always wholly believable. As the narrator, Braden is sometimes maddeningly naive and unsophisticated for a twenty-first-century teen, especially in his inability to respond to his father's emotional blackmail. Complex characters, deliberate narrative pace, and frequent flashbacks will please sophisticated readers, while baseball fans will enjoy the meticulous descriptions of Braden's games. Select this novel for larger fiction collections.Jamie Hansen.
Word Count: 100,625
Reading Level: 5.6
Interest Level: 7-12
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 5.6 / points: 16.0 / quiz: 174051 / grade: Upper Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:7.3 / points:24.0 / quiz:Q66090
Lexile: 940L

Winner of the Children's Choice Book Awards' Teen Choice Debut Author Award

Ten years ago, Braden was given a sign, a promise that his family wouldn't fall apart the way he feared.

But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden's father, a well-known Christian radio host has sparked national media attention. His fate lies in his son's hands; Braden is the key witness in his father's upcoming trial.

Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four mile per hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden's saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch.

Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.

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