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Baseball meets humanitarianism meets what could have been a midlife crisis--but isn't.

Fifty-year-old Joe Ciotola's a well-respected general manager of a California-based Major League Baseball team. He once played professional baseball, but he never really succeeded until he worked in the front office in the difficult job of general manager. He decides he wants to retire at the top of his game. After all, he's got more money than he knows what to do with, he's helped his team win several World Series championships, he has a lovely home and a great car.

He's still feeling guilty, however, that the depth and scope of his job, which seems to be all-encompassing and never-ending, interfered with his relationship with his mother and father in the Bronx. He hasn't forgiven himself for not having been there when his father died, nor missing his mother's death and not having been able to return home until her body was being lowered into the grave.

He takes off in his car, thinking he'll just keep driving until he can think his way out of everything swirling in his head. He stops in a tiny town called Salvation, not realizing that his entire life will be changed by a small child named Mia. He realizes that the town is something almost out of an episode of "The Twilight Zone," and that Mia needs to get out. He doesn't even know her age, and even whether this child is a girl or a boy. All he knows is that she's dirty, malnourished, wears ill-fitting grubby clothing, and needs to leave this crazy place. He and Mia check into a fancy hotel suite, where he figures he can get her cleaned up and feed her and then decide what to do.

Coincidentally--or perhaps not so coincidentally--he gets a call in the hotel from Catherine Baker, who's the new general manager of another baseball team, and who "runs into" Joe. He tells her all about Mia, and Catherine goes into maternal mode, even though she has no children of her own. She takes Mia shopping for clothes and the plot goes on from there.

As a major baseball fan, I enjoyed the scenes relating to baseball. It's obvious that the author knows his baseball. He drops baseball quotes here and there that make perfect sense. He also demonstrates to the average baseball fan how some difficult decisions concerning trades and player developments are made.

I also liked the way in which his main character, Joe, reaches out to help people who are less fortunate than he is (e.g., a waitress at a bar he frequents--she's the victim of domestic violence, and he uses his financial resources to help her escape). He discusses social justice issues throughout the book, using Mia's story to help punctuate the necessity for people to care for each other.

What I didn't always like, however, was a sense of redundancy in some spots. For example, Joe and Mia go running every morning, and he always stresses that each morning, the run gets longer. I think after reading that a few times, it becomes redundant. Also some of the dialogue becomes repetitive as everyone keeps telling each other that they love each other.

Overall, this is a pleasant read, one that's appropriate for young adults up to general fiction. It's not what I would characterize as "high literature," but it's solid and interesting.

Reviewed by

After a 40-year career in public relations/marketing/media relations, I wrote my first novel, "Empty Seats," a coming-of-age book with baseball as the backdrop. This award-winning debut novel is appropriate for young adults as well as people of all ages and has received excellent reviews on Amazon.

About the author

Joseph Sciuto holds degrees from both John Jay College of Criminal Justice and Stony Brook University and a certificate in film studies from New York University. He relocated to Southern California to attend graduate school at Loyola Marymount University, where he studied writing and film. view profile

Published on April 27, 2020

Published by Iguana Publishing

100000 words

Genre: Historical Fiction

Reviewed by