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Reviewed by Gobi Jane for Readers' Favorite
American Past Time: A Novel by Len Joy is an audiobook that is a delight for fans of baseball and stories with strong characters battling the odds to succeed. It is set in the Midwest town of Maple Spring, Missouri, and it follows Dancer Stonemason, a promising pitcher with the Rolla Rebels, who wants nothing more than to make it to the major league. His family is excited as they cheer for him, but when he pitches the greatest, most important game of his life, he fails. And with this monumental failure comes the sinking of his dreams. Now, new choices have to be made and a new path forged, and with this failure, everything changes, including the dynamics in a family that has already been struggling.
This novel has a strong historical and cultural setting, exploring the fever of one of the most cherished sports in the US: Baseball. The narrative provides hints of postwar life and challenges and follows a man’s struggle to get things right for himself and his family. It explores themes of family dynamics and the drama that happens when the fragile thread of hope is broken. It is told in an engrossing narrative voice and features characters that are genuinely flawed and believable. American Past Time: A Novel is emotionally rich and Len Joy knows how to toy with the emotions of readers. One moment the reader is rooting for the protagonist, the next moment they are worried about him. The narrative is beautiful and the voice allows the drama to come across powerfully. It is clear and professionally developed. Larry Oliver, the narrator, was able to convey the events of the story through his arresting voice. I enjoyed the measured pacing and how the intonation of the voice communicated the drama and the emotions of the characters. Overall, this was a great treat.