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Sport
Mick Cochrane
Adult Fiction COCHRAN

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From Publishers' Weekly:

Growing up in St. Paul, Minn., in the 1960s, 12-year-old Harlan Hawkins ("Sport" to his father) is having a bad summer. His mother has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, his alcoholic lawyer father has erupted in physical abuse and his obese, older brother, Gerard, is numbing his depression with cigarettes and alcohol. Harlan's only respite from his dismal home life is on the baseball diamond, "where miraculous comebacks were always possible, where I still knew the rules." In a spare but affecting first-person narrative, Cochrane's second novel (after Flesh Wounds) is a winning coming-of-age tale that falters only occasionally. After Harlan's father decamps and neglects to pay child support, his mother's advancing disease leaves the family home a shambles and their finances seriously impaired. Cochrane renders the conditions of Harlan's impoverished childhood with a laid-back, unpretentious grace. It's understandable that Harlan needs a means of psychological escape, which he finds in his baseball card collection ("they weren't so much things to possess as a place to be"). He also receives support from his neighbor and baseball coach, George Walker, who decides to take the boy under his wing and helps get him into a local private school on scholarship. The novel doesn't quite achieve the depth and scope it aims for: one might wish to penetrate the psyche that guides Walker's altruism, or to experience the genuine pain that lies behind Gerard's moody, embittered facade. However, obvious parallels to Tobias Wolff's This Boy's Life should attract readers who will then be seduced by the unassuming richness of Cochrane's prose and his gift for subdued yet potent storytelling. (Jan. 12) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

From Library Journal:

Cochrane's second novel (after Flesh Wounds) is a touching tale about a boy trying to make sense of a world turned upside down. When Sport starts junior high, his mother is diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and his father abandons them, refusing to pay child support while occasionally returning to attack her. Sport's mom, who is spirited, charming, independent, and very odd, repels social workers, making their financial situation even more precarious. Sport finds refuge in school and baseball and a friend in his coach, who tries to help the family unobtrusively by offering him odd jobs and occasional gifts. But Sport understands that these are oblique criticisms of his mother, and eventually he has to choose among his loyalties. This believable, affecting coming-of-age story is recommended for all libraries.DMarylaine Block, "Librarian Without Walls," Davenport, IA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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main characters Harlan Hawkins
Male
Age: Teenager
Loves baseball; bright; his mother has multiple sclerosis.
Student

Mr. Walker
Male
Teacher



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