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Writer reconnects with son over summer baseball trip in 'Stealing Home'

Kirkus Reviews
"Stealing Home: A Father, a Son, and the Road to the Perfect Game" by Ron Seybold

Writer Ron Seybold recounts a summer trip with his young son and his shot at redemption in "Stealing Home: A Father, a Son, and the Road to the Perfect Game."

In 1994, Seybold organized an epic trek for himself and his 11-year-old son, Nicky. They would attend nine baseball games in eight different cities over the course of just 11 days, an expedition spanning more than 3,400 miles. It was a complex odyssey to plan during “a time without the Web, Wi-Fi, or phones that rang in our pockets” and so tightly scheduled it was unnervingly vulnerable to derailment. But for the author, divorced with only limited custody of his son, the vacation was brimming with symbolic meaning, a chance to establish himself as a worthy father. Seybold grew up terrorized by his own father’s mercurial rage, an ungovernable fury that could erupt into violence. The author struggled to escape from his father’s mistakes, but a toxic brew of anxiety and depression led him to repeat them instead, a pattern that ended his marriage. In tenderly poignant terms, he describes his excursion with Nicky, including his victories (keeping his cool when the boy’s television viewing delayed a departure) and foibles (picking a cheap but unsavory hotel). Seybold also recounts his experiences with his own dad, a talented but desperately insecure man who ultimately committed suicide. Thoughts of his father flooded the author’s mind as he visited his old neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. The memoir seamlessly tracks three storylines: Seybold’s upbringing, his failed marriage, and the journey, all of which seem to find a narrative confluence in the last two games he and Nicky attended at Wrigley Field. The author’s remembrance is a profoundly touching one, especially given his forthcoming candor and willingness to dispense self-criticism. The writing is always lucid and can be moving, although Seybold occasionally succumbs to the charms of saccharine sentimentality: “By keeping my summertime pitches across the plate of Nicky’s heart, I was righting my wrongs and forgiving my sins.” Still, the story is much more often than not wise and affecting, ably capturing the excitement of live baseball.

A beautifully stirring reflection on the joys and challenges of fatherhood.

(Seybold will speak and sign copies of his book at 1 p.m. Sunday at Malvern Books, 613 W. 29th St. Information: malvernbooks.com.)

Nora Roberts' latest long, successful

In Nora Roberts' latest, "Under Currents," abused boy fights back, escapes, then returns as an attorney to his beloved hometown, but just as he’s falling in love with a transplanted landscaper, a series of attacks from shadowy enemies jeopardizes their happiness.

“From the outside, the house in Lakeview Terrace looked perfect.” Which of course means that it wasn't. We're introduced to the horrifying Dr. Graham Bigelow, who beats his wife and, increasingly as the boy gets older, his son, Zane. On the night of Zane’s prom, a particularly savage attack puts him and his sister in the hospital, and his father blames Zane, landing him in jail. Then his sister stands up for him, enlisting the aid of their aunt, and everything changes, mainly due to Zane’s secret diaries. Nearly 20 years later, Zane leaves a successful career as a lawyer to return to Lakeview, where his aunt and sister live with their families, deciding to hang a shingle as a small-town lawyer. Then he meets Darby McCray, the landscaper who’s recently relocated and taken the town by storm, starting with the transformation of his family’s rental bungalows. The two are instantly intrigued by each other, but they move slowly into a relationship neither is looking for. Darby has a violent past of her own, so she is more than willing to take on the risk of antagonizing a boorish local family when she and Zane help an abused wife. Suddenly Zane and Darby face one attack after another, and even as they grow ever closer under the pressure, the dangers become more insidious. Roberts’ latest title feels a little long and the story is slightly cumbersome, but her greatest strength is in making the reader feel connected to her characters, so “unnecessary details” can also charm and engage.

Another success for the publishing phenom.

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