The latest book by Josh Grisham is not a legal thriller but a poignant drama about redemption told through the backdrop of America’s favorite pastime, baseball. Paul Tracey is the son of semi-famous Mets baseball player Warren Tracey. What Warren lacks in actual skill he makes up for by abusing his wife, children, and any player who mildly pisses him off. Paul’s hero is not his dad, but up-and-coming hotshot Cubs star Joe Castle (whom the press later dubs Calico Joe because he’s from Calico Rock, Arkansas).
When the Mets play the Cubs, disaster strikes. Careers are ruined, and even young Paul (who’s only 11 at the time) gives up the game forever. In the present, Paul has learned that his father (whom he’s barely spoken with in the last 30 years) is dying; and there is only thing on his mind. As Paul attempts to resolve a longtime wronging, he manages to salvage more than he bargained for.
Grisham is not an opulent writer, and his very direct storytelling techniques always seem to work in his favor. I, for one, cannot stand baseball and was not looking forward to reading a book about. But just like in Moneyball, the characters in the story win me over and I quickly became engaged in the book. Although it’s a quick read, Calico Joe managed to inspire me (and I even cried a little). I found this book more enjoyable than his football drama Bleachers, but I’ll still always prefer his legal thrillers.