CBR11 Bingo: #pajiba
I hadn’t heard of this lovely book until Dustin wrote about it over the summer. And then I saw it EVERYWHERE. On every list. In every store. Every day on every social media platform. Apparently, I had to read it.
I’m quite glad I did.
Evvie Drake has been widowed for about a year. She has barely coped since her husband died — she doesn’t leave the house much, she doesn’t really socialize with anyone (ecxept for her best friend, Andy), and she hasn’t been working. But her isolation isn’t caused by the reasons we might think, like sadness, grief, or despair.
Evvie doesn’t know how to handle the fact that the night that her husband — the town’s golden child — died, she was in the process of leaving him and his incessant emotional abuse.
Scrambling to make ends meet and to keep up the payments on the enormous home her husband bought (without asking her or showing her!), Andy convinces her to rent out the downstairs apartment to a friend of his, a former Major League Baseball pitcher named Dean.
Dean has had recent troubles of his own. He’s a World Series winner and used to date Hollywood actresses and models. But now, he’s got “the yips,” which according to wikipedia, is:
The yips is the loss of fine motor skills in athletes. The condition occurs suddenly and without apparent explanation, usually in mature athletes with years of experience. It is poorly understood and has no known treatment or therapy. Athletes affected by the yips sometimes recover their ability, which may require a change in technique. Many are forced to abandon their sport at the highest level.
The yips manifest themselves as sudden movements at crucial moments, and occur most often in sports in which athletes are required to perform a single precise and well-timed action such as golf and darts. The condition is also experienced by snooker players, bowlers in cricket and pitchers in baseball.
Dean thinks that maybe, a year hiding out in rural Maine, not thinking about baseball, might help him figure out what’s wrong with him, and what he can do next, now that he can’t do the one thing he’s always done.
And so, Evvie and Dean are brought together, and quickly make a deal: she won’t ask him about baseball and he won’t ask her about her husband. Evvie and Dean grow closer and become friends, with the possibility of “something more” when Evvie is ready, but they can’t tiptoe around the forbidden topics of baseball and husbands forever.
I adored this book.
It works as a story about small-town Maine. It made me want to get in my car and drive however-many hours to Portland, to enjoy some beer and lobster and whoopie pies.
It also works as a story about friendship. Andy (and Monica, his girlfriend) was not just a supporting, stock friend character. We knew and cared about his life and his daughters, and when things got sticky between him and Evvie, they couldn’t work things out fast enough.
It works as a story about baseball (or really, and professional sport), and the fascinating time period when an athlete suddenly isn’t an athlete anymore. What happens next?
It works as a story about dysfunctional and abusive relationships, and the PTSD for the survivors of such treatment. Tim was, pure and simple, an abusive asshole. Evvie’s inability to share the truth of her relationship with Andy or her dad (who was adorable) was raw and real.
And it works as a romance, although I wouldn’t qualify this book as a “romance” per se. Evvie and Dean are intelligent adults, both working through their own crap, who know that they want more out of life. They just need to figure out how to get what they want.
I was sad when I finished this. Now I just need to wait for the sure-to-be-disappointing movie version that can’t possibly live up to the standards I’ve set in my mind.