I have another non-crime fiction book for you today. This one is non-fiction and but does have a strong element of crime, as it was written by a former crime reporter. My review of A Chance to Win: Boyhood, Baseball and the Struggle for Redemption in the Inner City first appeared in Shelf Awareness. I also had the opportunity to interview the author Jonathan Schuppe. Incidentally, Jonathan Schuppe use to work with Brad Parks at Newark Star-Ledger. We won't hold that against him, though.
In light of the fact that Father's Day is coming up this weekend, I thought some of your fathers--or you fathers--might be interested in this one.
First line: "Rodney sat."A standout on his high school baseball team, Rodney Mason had aspirations of playing professional ball. However, those aspirations were gradually extinguished by his other life, drug dealing. The final douse on the flame came during a fight over a girlfriend that resulted in Rodney being shot and paralyzed.
Despite his best efforts, no miracle returned Rodney’s legs to him. The miracle came in a different form: the resurrection of a Little League program. Against the odds, Rodney took the reigns of a team in an effort to help the young boys of his neighborhood and make a difference in their lives.
A Chance to Win is not exclusively Rodney’s story. Jonathan Schuppe, former Newark Star-Ledger reporter, probes the lives of Rodney, two boys from Rodney’s inaugural team and the father of two other teammates. Through the alternating views of these boys and men, Schuppe puts a heart-wrenching element of American society in the spotlight--an element that is being failed despite their struggles to reach for the American dream.
Schuppe says there is no “tidy ending” for A Chance to Win. He quotes Martin Luther King who said, “Salvation isn’t reaching the destination of absolute morality, but it’s being in the process and on the right road.” Rodney’s flame of hope re-ignites in the young boys he coaches, trying to ensure their flames never go out. Rodney is in the process and on the right road.
Jonathan Schuppe’s debut is both uplifting and uncomfortably revealing. Perhaps it can strike the match that lights an overall flame of hope.
A Chance to Win is available in hardcover (ISBN: 978-0805092875) from Henry Holt and Co.