8 CDs. 9:59 hrs. Listening Library. Mar. 2016. $65. ISBN 9780515159974. digital download.
Gr 8 Up—Braden's family appears normal, but it is actually severely dysfunctional. After Braden is abandoned by his mother, his volatile and abusive father steps up to raise him. Mart was a baseball player whose career was ended by an injury before it really started. He has put all of his aspirations on Braden's shoulders, and Braden's world becomes baseball. Mart is an emotional powder keg who metes out love and psychological abuse in equal measure. If Braden has a bad game, Mart derides him and makes him feel like a failure. Mart is a Christian radio talk show host who espouses family values and thinks homosexuality is a sin against God. He doesn't practice what he preaches, however, and is now awaiting trial for murder. Mart relies on Braden proving his love for him once and for all by lying about what happened that night. The narrative is told in flashbacks, so a narration with very distinct voices for the characters is in order. Unfortunately, Michael Crouch does not adequately differentiate among the characters. The author spends undue time on the baseball component of the novel, slowing the pacing and affecting the overall success of the audio.
VERDICT This is a story with great intent that examines morality and the effect it has on a family, but, as it is, the unwieldy audiobook is not a first buy for libraries. ["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": SLJ 5/15 starred review of the Hyperion book.]

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