In youth, Francis had looks, health, vitality and a burgeoning baseball career that included such notables like Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker and Eddie Collins. But then it all disappeared to mediocrity and then into something even less than that. One would figure, like Job in the Bible, Francis would scream, "God, wht hast thou forsaken me?" He does not do that. In that respect, that is what makes this novel so refreshing. It does not evolve into a pity party, although the theme, plot and environment would lead a reader to think otherwise. Francis and his associates, specifically Helen Archer and Rudy, just propel themselves onward, despite or until mental and physical difficulities impede them. The characters don't whine or pout; they just deal with it. When the joys of life ebb away into that which we do not think we can handle, that's when the true self emerges, the thick skin manifests itself during adversity.
Despite what I have written, it is not all grim and tragic. Far from it. In darkness there is light, and that is especially true in the latter part of the book. The jocularity of the dialogue and semi jocund personalities of the characters give this novel an uplifting air of hope and possibility. And it makes one belive that no matter how dark our times may be, no matter how tragic our circumstances are, somewhere, in the far off distance, there is a gleaming ray of hope at the end of the tunnel.
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