Cautionary tale blends baseball, inner pain

Posted Nov. 01, 2009, at 7:37 p.m.

33 SUMMERS, by Darren L. Pare, 2009, Eloquent Books, New York, hardcover, 174 pages, $24.50.

It’s World Series time, and Orono author Darren Pare has created a different kind of baseball book.

Pare, a Saco native, has written a novel loosely based on the career of major-leaguer Josh Hamilton, who came back from drug addiction to become an All-Star outfielder.

In Pare’s first-person narrative, his protagonist, Jack Mathis, ends up on a similar career path; however, his journey isn’t as positive as Hamilton’s.

Jack grows up in a Rhode Island household, with his mother trying to shield him from his abusive, alcoholic father.

The only thing that Jack and his father shared was a love of baseball, as his dad pushed Jack toward a pro-baseball career.

Through hard work, Jack climbs the baseball ladder toward the major leagues, but he’s painfully withdrawn, which keeps him from connecting with others. The way he overcomes this shyness is first with alcohol, and later with drugs.

Jack can’t catch a break, although many of his obstacles are self-inflicted. The environment in which he grew up keeps holding him back.

Pare has woven an interesting tale in an intriguing format. He takes readers through 33 years of Jack’s life — what’s happening in baseball and music, his twin passions, and what’s going on in the world at large during each year.

While Jack’s life is hardly uplifting, Pare has created a cautionary tale about what happens to those not strong enough to break free of the shackles of their minds.

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