Thursday, March 28, 2013

"Home Run" Review

Cory Brand, major league baseball player for the Denver Grizzlies, is a star on the field, but his personal life is spinning out of control. After years of alcoholism, a violent outburst on the playing field leads to a suspension from baseball and a mandatory stint in a recovery program. Cory’s agent thinks the best thing to do during this time is to escape the spotlight by spending his recovery time in his hometown of Okmulgee, Oklahoma.

But Cory knows that it will be impossible to escape the spotlight even in Okmulgee. His hometown will only bring to light all of the bad memories and broken relationships that he sought to escape all those years ago.

For almost as long as he can remember, Cory has used baseball and alcohol to fill the hole in his life. Now that he no longer has baseball, will his time spent in Okmulgee lead to his destruction? Or to the grace and peace that he didn’t even know he was looking for?

When I first requested this book for review, I actually didn’t realize that it was a novelization of a movie that is coming out in April. I thought that the book had been written first and that someone was making a movie out of it later. When I realized that the movie came first, I was actually not quite as excited to read the book. I have not had great experiences with movie novelizations in the past.

But this book took all of those preconceived notions I had about movie novelizations and threw them out. If I had not known that it was written from a movie, I wouldn’t have been able to tell. It is far and away the best movie novelization that I have ever read. I’m also glad that I read the book before I saw the movie, which is my preference!

In my younger days, I was much more of a baseball fan than I am now. (Football consumes my sports-watching time now). As I began reading this book, I wondered if there was going to be much focus on the game or if it was going to be more of a character study. It turns out that the latter was true. Being a sports fan, I was a bit disappointed in this at the beginning (and I’m sure die-hard baseball fans might feel the same way), but as I kept reading, I got so involved with Cory and his story that I didn’t mind. There was still enough baseball intertwined in various ways throughout the book that kept it from being entirely character-driven.

Even though character-focused novels are not always my favorite, this one was written so well that I stayed interested in the story throughout most of the book. The emotion that comes across so easily in a movie is not always translated as well when written into a novel. But that was not the case with Home Run. The author was able to portray those emotions and actions very well without being over-the-top. I found myself thinking about Cory and his friends and family even when I wasn’t reading the book.

The struggle with addiction comes across very realistically in this novel as well. Towards the middle, I thought this part of the book got a little bit long-winded, but I understand why this was done. It made the story even more realistic. As for the other characters, although I didn’t agree with some of the actions of Emma (Cory’s former girlfriend), I did understand them. I liked how the author showed how every character, not just Cory, struggles with things that simply cannot be handled without the strength that comes from God.

The ending to this book also got a little bit long. It seemed as if each section break toward the end could have been an ending to the book, but I think that was because there was so much to wrap up.

Since I knew that the book was also a movie, I think I was able to picture things happening in my mind much more than I normally do when I read a book. My husband says that he does this all the time with books, and now I understand even more what he means! I usually tend to separate books and movies and enjoy them differently, but now I might be more willing to combine the two in my head a little bit.

Ultimately, this novel is about a journey – the journey that Cory takes but also the journey we all must make. The question is whether or not we are going to let sin rule our lives or if we are going to choose to experience the freedom from sin that can only be found in Christ.
In that sense, and in many other ways, Home Run hit it right out of the park.
(baseball pun most definitely intended)
Watch the trailer for Home Run here -

I will give Home Run … 4 BookWorms, and I can’t wait to see the movie.


Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from David C. Cook Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this is accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

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