Reviewed by Vincent Dublado for Readers' Favorite
Last At Bat: Small Town Big Secrets by Mark Donahue is a remarkable story of the human spirit in its capacity to beat tremendous odds. The story opens with the crash of a passenger airplane where baseball star Dylan Michael is among the passengers. The sporting world and his wife mourn his passing, and even Dylan himself has no remembrance that he survived. Only the four people who rescued him from the crash know everything. Living a new life as Matt Wolf, he slowly tries to recuperate. And as his body is beginning to gain strength, he begins to have a persistent memory of playing baseball and tries to reclaim who he once was. Of course, he could resurface in a world that has already moved on and has long accepted his death. This could prove costly as his former self is expected to do time in prison. But Matt is determined to make a comeback, and he will need the help of the folks in the small town of Blossom, South Carolina, a black town that is not fond of white guys like him.
You can feel the angst of Matt Wolf/Dylan Michael as he tries to make sense of the unusual circumstance that he finds himself in as he tries to reclaim who he once was. The headlines will not focus on the hostile black community but the white player who has been resurrected from the dead. This premise is what makes Last at Bat a powerful page-turner, and Mark Donahue is aware of this. That is why he writes his chapters in short, intense bursts. Matt Wolf/Dylan Michael is a brilliant study in character, working as the fiery, intense protagonist who, unconsciously, is making history by trying to redeem himself. What better way to examine the moral scale of racism than to place it in the competitive and emotionally-charged world of professional baseball. Last At Bat rises above the standards of race themes in fiction. It’s a must-read story for its rousing and sensitive treatment of social issues that most of us find difficult to address.