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It’s the summer of 1983, and Trent Days is Major League Baseball’s rookie sensation. Since he was born in Alaska to an Inupiat mother, the press have dubbed him the Eskimo Slugger, but a midseason collision at home plate temporarily halts his meteoric rise to the top.
Sent back to Austin to recuperate, Trent visits his favorite record store, Inner Sanctum, where he meets amiable law student Brendan Baxter. A skip in the vinyl of New Order’s “Blue Monday” drives Trent back to Brendan, and their romance takes them into uncharted territory. As Trent’s feelings move from casual to serious, he’s faced with an impossible dilemma. Does he abandon any hope of a future with Brendan and return to the shadows and secrets of professional sports? Or does he embrace the possibility of real love and leave baseball behind him forever? As he struggles with his decision, Trent embarks on a journey of self-discovery to figure out who he really is and what matters most.
Book review (Previously posted on this site.)
Trent is a baseball player from Alaska, thus the name Eskimo Slugger. He’s at the top of his game when he gets injured and ends up spending two weeks in Austin, TX. There he meets Brendan, a law student/record store clerk. They start as friends but once Brendan tentatively asks Trent “Is this a date?” the two acknowledge the deeper aspect of their blossoming relationship. The two immediately set sparks off one another, though neither has ever had a gay relationship before.
With some pretty funny forays into gay sex, the two explore each other and a relatively unexplored aspect to their personalities. For Brendan, being gay is something he’s pondered but been afraid of, but with the right incentive he embraces the idea and eventually decides to incorporate into his life fully and without secrecy.
For Trent, being gay means possibly (probably) the end of his career, certainly the end of his life as it stands currently, and though he’s always known he was gay, he has never let himself entertain the idea that he could actually live as a gay man.
Brendan enlists the help of Stanton and Hutch (from The Return) as “gay mentors” and together, with Bill Walsh (from The Nothingness of Ben) the group bonds, smoke a lot of weed and begin to form relationships that even death won’t end.
Ultimately, Trent has to make the biggest decision of his life: Choose baseball or choose Brendan. Perhaps the two can be together, but probably it’s one or the other.
By now you should have read the first two books (The Nothingness of Ben and The Return). If you haven’t – go! What are you waiting for? Technically this could be a standalone, I guess, but it won’t make a heck of a lot of sense and will leave you very unsatisfied.
If you have read the other books you know that the end of this book is really the beginning of TNOB. That, Brad Boney, is an amazing feat! Mr. Boney has managed to create this beautiful circular set of books that literally bleeds one into the other so that (as a reader) you want to just keep going round and round the merry-go-round.
I found myself referencing both of the earlier books time and again with the “treasures” that were revealed throughout this book. Without completely giving away all the secrets just know that the MCs of all three books are inter-related in various ways and little bits of their stories, past and present are slipped in throughout the story.
In The Return it was all about music – fast paced facts and quips, with Slugger it’s baseball. For me, the music was more interesting, but if you are a baseball fan this will really hit home. (See what I did there?)
I didn’t like the love story as much in Slugger as in The Return or TNOB, probably because it happens so quickly. I just never felt the emotion – especially from Brendan. Trent was invested, you get that feeling so strongly. Brendan was too standoffish for me and it made me a little sad. But… since I know what I know about how things end… he’s forgiven ☺.
I really, really enjoyed these books and was sad to see it end. I can’t say for sure, but I think that if I were to recommend a reading order I would say start with The Return, then Slugger then finish with TNOB. There may be something “missing” with that order, but I think, ultimately, it will be so much more satisfying. Or… do as the author may have intended and read it : TNOB, Return, Slugger, TNOB… and so on and so on…
Just a fantastic book all around, 5 of 5 hearts and for the series 6 of 5!
Michael Ferraluolo did an excellent job with this! I adored Charlie David and was disappointed he didn’t narrate this, the third of the series. I think the continuity would have been great. But… Michael didn’t disappoint with his performance. He has a great voice that is easy to listen to, did a nice job differentiating the characters, really got into the emotion of the story and even managed to do a nice job with the female voices.
All in all I am sticking with 6 of 5 hearts for this in either book or audio form!