I will begin this review by stating that I have read all of Brad Boney’s work and enjoyed it immensely. When I saw this talented author had another story set for release, I jumped at the opportunity to review it based on the strength of his previously published work alone. I am happy to report that once again, Brad Boney does not disappoint in his latest novel, The Eskimo Slugger. If you are familiar with this man’s storytelling then you know his novels are slow building and character driven. When you are finished one of Boney’s books, you know more about his characters than you ever thought possible and they have become a part of a literary family you can’t seem to part with.
Travis Days has long understood sacrifice. At a young age he moved from his tiny village of Barrow, Alaska, finally ending up in Texas where he began to play ball. Baseball became his life and yet he has never felt the fervor or passion that so many of his teammates seem to have for the sport. But so many sacrifices have been made for him to play a game that did not even exist in his tiny Alaskan town that Travis embraces his destiny that seems set on making him the Rookie of the Year. After getting injured during a game, Travis returns to his home for rest. There, in a small record shop, his destiny changes and for the first time, Travis dares to reveal his secret to another person. His secret? He is gay.
Brendan is studying to become a lawyer. His gig at the music store is just a means to an end that helps him pay his bills. When THE Travis Days steps into his world, Brendan realizes exactly what he has been missing—the thing that he has yet to find, a man to love. But this is the year 1983 and the baseball world is not nearly ready for a gay rookie all star and so the two men must furtively hide their relationship until Travis realizes that by hiding his feelings for Brendan, his life will never be focused on those he loves but, instead, a game that he merely plays. The decision seems so simple. Why then do Travis and Brendan feel that in order to live the life that they desire, their sacrifices would be immense?
Clever, sweet, tender, any of these words could suitably describe this lovely coming out novel. In a world that is just beginning to understand what gay really means, our two heroes are trapped in a destiny that will include more pain than happiness. Travis is taking a step into a new beginning—a life that will bring him both extreme joy and much pain. He will make decisions that will lose him the best friend he has had since childhood and potentially the career that could have so easily been his. Brendan can no longer remain trapped in the closet he had slipped into when he allowed fear of the unknown to rule his life. For the first time, he will crave to be with others like himself and no longer worry over the fallout that could potentially mean his family disowning him. Two shy and wary men find each other and in a brief amount of time realize they were destined to be together all along. With a focus on the idea of reincarnated souls always finding each other, author Brad Boney opens the world of baseball to us and creates a love story that is sweet beyond words.
The end of this story will have fans of this author doing a small cheer and laughing out loud. The smart way this story is woven and how Travis and Brendan’s real destiny is revealed is nothing short of brilliant. Yes, there was a lot of baseball in this novel, so if you are not a fan that may give you pause. But I encourage you to push on through the stats and name-dropping of baseball greats so that you can see the beautiful tale Boney has given us. The Eskimo Slugger is not a rushed, run of the mill coming out story that has flooded the m/m market these days. Rather, this book is a steadily moving discovery for two men who finally understand what is important in life and where they fit into each other’s futures. It is novel of love and hope and self-discovery and I highly recommend it to you.
A review copy of this book was provided by Dreamspinner Press.