Steal Away Home

Steal Away Home

by Billy Coffey

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Overview

“This is a powerful story of grief, love, forgiveness, and holy mystery, and I loved it. Billy Coffey is a master storyteller.” —Lauren Denton, USA Today bestselling author of The Hideaway

Owen Cross grew up with two loves: one a game, the other a girl. One of his loves ruined him. Now he’s counting on the other to save him.

Owen Cross’s father is a hard man, proud in his brokenness, who wants nothing more than for Owen to succeed where he failed. With his innate talents and his father’s firm hand guiding him, Owen goes to college with dreams of the major leagues—and an emptiness full of a girl named Micky Dullahan.

Owen loved Micky from the first time they met on the hill between their two worlds: his middle-class home and her troubled Shantytown. Years later he leaves her for the dugouts and the autographs, but their days together follow him. When he finally returns home, he discovers that even peace comes at a cost. And that the hardest things to say are to the ones we love the most.

From bestselling author Billy Coffey comes a haunting story of small-town love, blinding ambition, and the risk of giving it all for one last chance.

“In one evening, a single baseball game, Coffey invites us into a lifetime. With lyrical prose and aching description we join Owen Cross on a journey of love, loss, faith, the unexpected—and America’s favorite pastime.” —Katherine Reay, author of Dear Mr. Knightley and The Austen Escape

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780718084448
Publisher: Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date: 01/02/2018
Pages: 400
Sales rank: 823,317
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Billy Coffey's critically acclaimed books combine rural Southern charm with a vision far beyond the ordinary. He is a regular contributor to several publications, where he writes about faith and life. Billy lives with his wife and two children in Virginia's Blue Ridge Mountains. Visit him at www.billycoffey.com. Facebook: billycoffeywriter Twitter: @billycoffey

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Pregame

-1-

June 5, 2001

We cross the river when I see in the rearview that the cabbie has something to say to me. His voice carries over the traffic and jackhammering and the bustle of the city: "You ain't got a chance, you know that. Right? My guys, they'll murder ya."

I meet the old man's eyes with my own.

"Always got your number," he says, spinning the last word in that peculiar northeastern way — numbah. "Know why that is?"

"Luck?"

He grins.

The cab trundles on. Across the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge and an East River that seems at rest, its skin a brackish and polluted russet. Onward sits a mass of ball fields laid out in clover patterns. Infields more sand than dirt, grass the color of dying wheat. I think, Nothing can grow here but concrete.

I tip my head at the thin glaze of grime over the window. "How far's it?"

"Forget about it" — Fahgetaboutit — "I'll get you there."

A tangle of brown walls and roofs rises to our right. The cabbie calls it Mott Haven. I see the Harlem River winding like a dirty thread past the maze of cars to our left.

"Where'd you get the call from?"

"Bowie," I tell him.

"Yeah? For good?"

"Only tonight. Cup a coffee, then I'm back."

"Well, enjoy it, mister," he says. He's got me by thirty years at least, but I let it go. "Greatest place to be in the greatest city in the world, that's where we're headed. I coulda made it. You know? Could be you." He shakes his head. At the memory or the traffic, I cannot know. Then he adds, "Knees."

The road dips into what looks like a tunnel, plunging the cab into dim evening. Exhaust trickles through unseen cracks. I wonder how anybody can breathe here. There are no woods. No hills. The only mountains are made of concrete and windows.

"Here, coming up on the right. End of the tunnel."

The cab lurches upward toward sunlight. I press my head against the glass and the residue of a hundred hands. Through a copse of trees rises a curved façade of fading stone like a hand reaching heavenward. The size of it. I have never felt so far from home and so close.

"Yeah." The cabbie laughs a smoker's chuckle and tilts the cap back on his head. Watching me while maneuvering among cars. "You rubes. Crack me up. Haunted. You know? Whole place. Them ghosts rise up. Seen it a thousand times. October rolls 'round, they come. It's our year."

The façade winks from sight amid a jumble of buildings and roads and comes once more as we approach the exit ramp. Two words are writ large along the ring of its top, each letter dark blue and capped and spelling a dream. The green sign above the overpass says E 161 St Yankee Stadium Macombs Dam Br Next Right. The cab wheels rightward into the lane. At the curve, the building rises. Here trees and shrubs bloom in the June warmth.

I ask him, "You got any idea where I go?"

"'Round the side, that's where I'll take you. You ain't the first rook I hauled up here. Won't be the last."

At Ruppert Place he throws the gear to park and nods toward a mass of barricades. "Players' lot's over there, and that's their entrance. Should be a guy for you."

I pay him and add a tip. He lays a finger to the bill of his cap. Only the one bag is beside me, a change of clothes and my mitt. I open the door to a heat that steals my breath. The cabbie calls to me from a window he opens halfway.

"Good luck. Coulda been me, but you enjoy it. Just watch those ghosts, you hear? They always watching" — Dey awlways wahchin.

"I'll do that. Appreciate the ride."

I shut the door and the cab is gone in a yellow blur, the man back to somewhere in the city or back to LaGuardia, another fare and one more dollar made. The sun is high over the stadium. I sling the bag over my shoulder and realize I didn't pack a toothbrush. Skip, he'd understand. Mom would kill me for it if she were here. Mom'd moider me. But as I take in this place of hallowed ghosts and gods, it is neither Skip nor my mother who fills my thoughts. It is a girl I fear has followed me and a man I know is close.

"We made it." I tilt my face to the sun and the blue around it reaching higher and higher. I say, "You and me, we're finally here," but do not know to which one I speak, the girl or the man or both. I settle on both.

-2-

Where the barricades end I am greeted by a grinning man dressed in khaki pants and a white shirt. A lanyard badge bearing the Orioles logo dangles above a blue tie stained with a dollop of yellow mustard.

He shields his eyes from the sun. "Owen Cross?"

"Yessir."

"Rick Mills, assistant to the traveling secretary. Welcome." He reaches out a hand that is swallowed to the wrist in my own. "Any problems getting here?"

"Nosir."

"Good. Know it's short notice." He winks at me. "Let's get you settled. Clubhouse is this way, then I'll take you to see Mike and get your uniform. Flying back tomorrow?"

"That's what they told me."

"Well, cup of coffee in the Show's still a cup," he says.

I nod. "Sure is."

He leads me down the tunnel and through a door set into the wall that opens into a sprawling carpeted room. Sofas and chairs are set into the center. Lockers ring the sides, each wide enough to fit two people or even three inside. Dangling from wooden hangers affixed to the corners are jerseys bearing the names of players spoken of in the bush leagues with the hushed tones used for royalty. I spot Bobby Kitchen's jersey hanging near where two wide-screen televisions are set into the wall. The sight of that jersey sends a shiver from my toes to my head. It births an image of home and a childhood now long past, me and Travis Clements and Jeffrey Davis riding our bikes down to the 7–11 and sorting through the Topps and Donruss baseball cards we'd bought, me squealing when I came across one of Country Kitchen himself.

Though a little before noon on the day of a night game, already a few Orioles players are there. They mill about, joking and shuffling a deck of cards before shaking my hand.

"Here," Rick says, finger pointing to the last locker in the row. "Put you here since it's just for tonight. You can leave your stuff. Mike wants to see you first off."

I drop my bag onto the metal chair and follow him through the clubhouse to a narrow hallway where a door stands. Manager is stamped on the frosted glass. Rick knuckles the frame and enters, motioning me forward. The man behind a battered metal desk stands to welcome me. Mike Singleton has been the Orioles' manager five years now, a journeyman outfielder in the seventies whose claim to fame is a '79 World Series ring and the fact that he collected home runs off four Hall of Fame pitchers during his career.

"Thanks for making the trip up," he says.

"Thanks for the call."

He sits but doesn't tell me to join him. "Wish I didn't have to. Hate calling up guys for one game, least of all in June. Hate it more against the Yankees. But our backup catcher's on bereavement down in Tallahassee with a sick daddy until tomorrow, and, well." He studies me. "How old are you, son?"

"Twenty-nine," I say. Thirty next month, I don't.

Mike shakes his head.

"Rick'll get you suited up. We got Johnson throwing tonight. Pitchers' meeting's in an hour. Doubt you'll see any action tonight, Carter —"

"Cross," I tell him.

Mike waves that off as though my name doesn't matter. "You're insurance, nothing more. Brooksie's our catcher, and God willin' he'll keep in one piece until Lopez gets back tomorrow. You just do what needs done. Meet the guys, enjoy yourself. Get a taste of the Show."

"Yessir."

"Skip or Mike'll do."

"Yessir."

Rick leads me out and farther down the hall, past the video rooms and where the trainers are already at work on the players who need them. The equipment room is on the end. "Scooter," he says. "Been with us forever."

I am greeted by an elderly man with a face of white stubble who asks my sizes. Scooter repeats my last name back to me slow, letter by letter, as if Cross could be spelled a dozen ways.

"You come back, I'll have you ready. Take this for now." He hands me a hat. The fit is good.

"Welcome to the Show," he says. "You a preference for a number?"

"Nineteen, if you got it."

Scooter says "Nineteen" the way he spelled my name to me. "Nawp, ain't anybody using it. That your uni down in Bowie?"

"Nosir." I swallow hard. "Was my daddy's."

-3-

I get settled and greet a few of the players before sitting in on the pitchers' meeting. Jason Johnson is there. He is quiet and does not acknowledge me, too focused on the game. Brook Fordyce, our catcher, runs through the strengths and weaknesses of the Yankee hitters. Brooksie lets me sit near the front as he takes over the meeting. It is a mass of numbers and formulas and computer charts mixed with what can only be called superstition — according to the pitching coach, tonight's moon is near full.

"Pitch'm off the plate," he says to Brooksie and Johnson. "Keep'm off balance, but make sure to pitch'm low. Full moon makes the balls fly."

A new uniform and a fresh pair of spikes are waiting at my locker when I'm done. Number 19 across the back, Cross in a slow arc above. I change and follow a group of guys down the tunnel toward the dugout. They make fun of my accent, call me Hillbilly. I am informed of the best restaurants close to the hotel and where I can find the best women after the game. It does not matter I'm a seven-year busher. None care I'm here for a cup of coffee. They hold their own memories of sorry hotels and buses stinking with sweat and grime, truck stop food and showers that would leave you howling each time someone flushed a toilet. For this night, I am one of them.

The way is brightened by a wedge of blue sky framed by the tunnel's end and a section of the right field stands. Sounds reach out like angels calling me home — laughter and shouting, ball meeting leather. I find a spot at the end of the bench as the players separate each unto their own kind, outfielders and infielders and pitchers last. Breathing deep the smell of dirt and grass, the aged wood and steel of a place that until this day existed in my dreams alone.

I stand and walk toward the dugout steps. The new spikes clack against concrete littered with tobacco spit and empty husks of sunflower seeds. Where the field meets the dugout I stop and rest my hand upon the railing. Below me is a straight line of groomed dirt to one side and the dugout to the other. I wonder how many steps I have taken to arrive at this place. Years of fear and doubt and trying flood me, the faces of those I've lost along the way, but as I move from dirt to grass so thick and soft my spikes sink to the ankles, I know I belong here.

I have always belonged here.

Most of the veterans along with Mike and the hitting coach are still around when my turn comes for batting practice. They gather with reporters or lean their arms against the netting. I grab a bat and enter the cage with that quiet murmur surrounding me. Taking my stance in the box, set- ting the bat to hover over my left shoulder.

I think, The Babe stood in this spot. Gehrig. The dirt behind this plate belonged to Yogi and Dickey and Howard and Munson. But where I should look for the pitch, my eyes instead wander to the third deck of stands in the far right. I see my father's words scrawled on a long-ago note left next to his living room chair and a baseball for me to sign. My eyes pick up the pitch too late. I muscle the swing and catch the ball at the end of the barrel, sending it dribbling along the infield grass before it veers foul in a slow curve. Talk behind me falls to quiet. Heat builds at my back. I cannot bear to turn my head.

The BP pitcher reaches for another ball from a crate of dozens. I tap the plate and remember it's seventeen inches like Dad said, seventeen whether at the high school field in Camden or at Yankee Stadium, and at the next toss I feel that bubble of eternity building and hear the bat connecting with an echoing crack, the ball arcing high and long out toward right, landing deep in the third deck with an echo against a seat I barely see. Another there, another, chased by early fans wearing the battered gloves of their youth. Now a voice behind me tinged with humor, one I pray is Country Kitchen's but that may belong to a manager believing me too old and spent to be here:

"Dang, son, what they feeding you down in Double-A?"

I finish my swings and step out to nods and quiet cursing. Fans gather along the first row of seats above the dugout. A boy leans over the edge with his father close and holds out a pen and a ball peppered with scrawled names. He says to me,

"Sign my ball, mister?"

"Sure? Ain't worth as much as some a these other guys'."

But the boy says I'm a player and today I am. I take the ball and the pen he hands me.

"What's your name?" he asks.

"Owen Cross. How 'bout you?"

His daddy says, "Named him after his granddaddy's favorite player."

"Oh yeah? Let me guess: Babe."

The boy chuckles.

"No? Yogi? Thurman? No, wait — Lefty."

I find a spot where the seams of the kid's baseball come near together and scrawl Owen and part of Cross as the dad says, "Mickey."

The pen freezes in my hand. The boy grins, flaring some- thing in me, anger or sadness I cannot tell, they feel so much the same. Buzzing in my head.

"Your name's Mickey?"

The father looks away. He says, "There's Ripken," and louder, "Hey, Cal, Cal, sign a ball for my boy." He reaches to take the ball from my hand and sees it only half signed, tells me to hurry. I can't. I can't sign the ball because of the boy's name, hearing it said. "Hey, c'mon, man, it's Cal Ripken."

I hand the ball back and watch the two of them scurry down the line of seats to the far end of the dugout. The boy looks at the ball and me and I hear him say, "He didn't sign it all the way, Daddy," and hear the father say it doesn't matter, that guy's a nobody but it's Cal Ripken over here, and all I can do is duck inside the dugout and find my place at the end of the bench, murmuring the boy's name over and over again.

-4-

I was twelve when Paul Cross moved Momma and me from Stanley. That was June of '84, after Dad lost his job at the mill where he'd spent twenty years of his life after blowing his elbow in the fifth inning of a doubleheader against Virginia Tech. I was old enough to know we were dire but too young to comprehend its depths. Dad looked for work everywhere. He would have taken anything. That's how he ended up being the janitor at a high school sixty miles away in Camden and how we ended up in a tiny ranch house at what felt like the edge of the known world near the Shenandoah National Park.

He spent much of those first weeks learning the ropes down at the school, coming home every evening wearing a wearied grin and a county uniform of blue pants and a gray shirt that stunk of cut grass and floor wax. We'd go into the backyard and have a catch while Mom fixed supper, him the pitcher and me the catcher, working on my movement and pitch calling as I crouched behind a trash can lid set down as home plate. We ate mostly in the quiet tones that come with a family growing accustomed to a new life. Each of us recalling the day's events, Dad's at the school and Mom's at the job she found shelving books at the library, me telling of the friends I'd met, Travis and Jeffrey and the boys who gathered every morning at the ball field in town. In the evening Dad would retire to the spare bedroom down the hall where his old trophies and baseballs were kept, relics of a life Paul Cross felt was stolen from him.

I am able now to understand the weight he must have borne, the burden of so many golden yesterdays from which such a sour present was birthed. He was a hard man, my father, and from that hardness came a love for Momma and me that we mostly shriveled under. And he was proud in his brokenness. I believe that was why he turned us to religion after our move — Dad's way of seeking out what meaning could be had from what his life had become. Two weeks later Reverend Alan Sebolt baptized the three of us along the muddy banks of the South River. Jesus laid hold of Paul Cross with a vengeance I can only compare to my daddy's love of baseball. He spent a week in our shed making a wood- burnt sign that said As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord; he hung it above the front door and wielded the Bible as one would a truncheon. As for me, I could only suppose my dunking some form of punishment. I thrashed about in the current as the preacher's hands clamped down, wanting every sin washed away. Some creature, fish or devil, took a nibble at my knee.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "Steal Away Home"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Billy Coffey.
Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Steal Away Home 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
AngelaBycroftNZ More than 1 year ago
Steal Away Home is a book steeped in baseball lore and procedure which left this non-baseball fan a little lost but behind that major framework lies a story which is about two people from different worlds finding common ground and love throughout the book. Owen Cross has always dreamed of the major leagues and success at the highest level in his chosen sport of baseball. Nothing will stand in his way but even when appearance seems to confirm his success there remains an emptiness which no level of fame and fortune can fill. While I confess to not being able to get past the baseball framework as stated above I could still appreciate the underlying story which was enjoyable for it’s southern charm and thought provoking direction. I received a copy of this book for free from the publisher as part of the Thomas Nelson/ Zondervan Fiction Guild. I was not required to post a positive review and the views and opinions expressed are my own.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I have a problem following the author's stories like this one. I couldn't figure out at first what the book was about. I continued to read and suddenly it clicked. The author has a way of getting your attention in subtle ways. He is definitely a storyteller that weaves emotional characters into your heart. Shantytown is a place no one wants to be from or even visit. It's where the poor reside or people from the wrong side of the tracks as we use to say. There is a girl named Micky that lives there. She is a pretty special girl to Owen. I found it interesting that their relationship had to be a secret. Looks like some people just don't accept everyone no matter where they come from. Their relationship was a bit complex and at times I wanted to just give up on them. I liked the baseball references and knew that Owen was destined for big things.I didn't care for his parents much. They remind me of people who go to church to be seen and love to criticize everyone. They had an attitude of being so religious I wanted to scream. The author confuses me at times when he jumps from one time period to another. Owen wants to be in the big league with the pros and the book centers around how to achieve his dream. The story does have some redeeming qualities that make the book worth reading. One thing I could relate to was trying to get approval from a parent. It is never easy when the parent has their eyes set on what they want you to become. I've learned over the years that I don't need approval from anyone to be happy. I encourage readers to give this book a try. It will remind you that we all come from different backgrounds, but we are all equal I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
Deana0326 More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I have a problem following the author's stories like this one. I couldn't figure out at first what the book was about. I continued to read and suddenly it clicked. The author has a way of getting your attention in subtle ways. He is definitely a storyteller that weaves emotional characters into your heart. Shantytown is a place no one wants to be from or even visit. It's where the poor reside or people from the wrong side of the tracks as we use to say. There is a girl named Micky that lives there. She is a pretty special girl to Owen. I found it interesting that their relationship had to be a secret. Looks like some people just don't accept everyone no matter where they come from. Their relationship was a bit complex and at times I wanted to just give up on them. I liked the baseball references and knew that Owen was destined for big things.I didn't care for his parents much. They remind me of people who go to church to be seen and love to criticize everyone. They had an attitude of being so religious I wanted to scream. The author confuses me at times when he jumps from one time period to another. Owen wants to be in the big league with the pros and the book centers around how to achieve his dream. The story does have some redeeming qualities that make the book worth reading. One thing I could relate to was trying to get approval from a parent. It is never easy when the parent has their eyes set on what they want you to become. I've learned over the years that I don't need approval from anyone to be happy. I encourage readers to give this book a try. It will remind you that we all come from different backgrounds, but we are all equal I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild. The review is my own opinion.
LynnLD More than 1 year ago
True Gems! Billy Coffey has a wondrous way with words as he unravels the unresolved teen love between Owen and Micky. She is a girl from the wrong side of the tracks, but has found an uncanny wisdom for the spiritual life. After a near-death experience, she sees beyond most in her sphere. Owen leaves their small town to go play baseball for the minor and major leagues but is never able to shake her haunting memory. Steal Away Home is told from many lenses as he goes back and forth from the game of baseball to fillers about his young life with his parents and the girl from Shantytown. This book would be great for a book discussion group.
EpicFehlReader More than 1 year ago
The time period of Steal Away Home alternates between grown Owen as a Minor League player in the early 2000s and his childhood spanning the 1980s and 90s. In the retrospective chapters, or "innings" as Coffey playful titles them here, we follow Owen from the first meetings with Micky, through junior high and high school up to the day he leaves his hometown of Camden, Virginia to attend college in Ohio. Owen always has to keep his relationship with Micky as secret. Though they go to the same school, they avoid any acknowledgement of each other beyond furtive glances. It's explained that because Micky is from Shantytown, socially she's basically considered the town's unclean, untouchable, too-poor-to-be-anything-but-pitied/reviled-from-a-distance population. Hard to make sense of this though, when you consider that Owen's economic situation wasn't really ALL that much better: his school clothes primarily come off the JC Penney clearance racks, his mom makes minimum wage at the town library and his dad works as the janitor at Owen's school. Owen flatly points out that his baseball skills are literally the only thing that keeps him from being socially ostracized himself. Still, he's all about keeping his seat at the cool kids' table. With the novel starting in the millennial era and periodically looking backwards, there is a mystery / possible crime story hinted at, clues to which are only given to the reader in the tiniest portions until at least the halfway point where the action on that front picks up a bit. Once Owen leaves Camden for college, we see that some characters from earlier in the story have gone missing in his time away, and certain clues hint that possible criminal activity may be linked to these characters. Be patient though, because Coffey's holding some cards up his author sleeve and he's not going to let you make sense of it all til the closing moments! Of all of Billy Coffey's novels that I've read to date, this has not been one of my favorites. Many of the elements felt pretty underdeveloped, at least with the home drama storylines. It certainly can't be said he skimped on the baseball game sections, those portions actually dragged a bit for me. Just a lot of Owen in the dugout with his thoughts for pages on end, least until it was his turn at the plate... but it felt like he spent a lot of time on the bench for a catcher! LOL The romantic relationship between Owen and Micky did, at times, have a charm to it that I enjoyed. Theirs was a young relationship that was full of sweet, naive, intense promises that most of us can probably relate to on some level, remembering back to our first loves. But something there fell short for me, didn't quite hit maximum heartstring tug. One thing I will give this book though -- even if the plot had some missed opportunities (IMO), there were some undeniably great lines of prose I would tip my hat to, if i wore one while I read. If you're familiar with Coffey's previous books and wonder about his trademark light fantasy / magical realism touch he tends to weave into his stories, it is still present here but it's much more faint than in his previous novels. FTC Disclaimer: TNZ Fiction Guild kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.
SemmieWise More than 1 year ago
** “Mom was right, the mob will always crucify Christ. We praise Him for His holiness and wisdom but cannot bow to His message. He stoops low for us, yet all we see is how the gods we fashion for ourselves stand taller. We would rather remain slaves to ourselves.” ** Billy Coffey once again takes us to the small, rural life in the South with “Steal Away Home,” a novel of following one’s dreams, the haves and the have nots, finding faith, love and, oh yeah, baseball. Lots and lots of baseball. Owen Cross has big dreams — to one day be a Major League player. Urged on by his father who was a star pitcher until suffering an injury, Owen works day in and day out to be the best catcher and hitter that he can be. He dreams of moving on to college and then the big league one day. But when Owen stumbles upon the mysterious and beautiful Mickey Dullahan from Shantytown, a forbidden relationship develops that affects everything he has ever thought about his future. “Steal Away Home” takes place in 2001, when Owen is 29 and still playing in the Minors for the Baltimore Orioles. When he gets called up to play one game in the Majors … and against the New York Yankees no less! … Owen finds himself reflecting upon his life. Written in a back-and-forth format, Owen’s story jumps between the current game (which according to the author is taken from an actual game played on June 5, 2001, under a Strawberry Moon) and times from his past — during high school, the summer after graduation, time playing baseball at college, and time in the Minors. It is a deeply introspective piece, really diving into the nitty gritty of life. It reveals the highs and the lows, and the moments to be lauded and the moments to be ashamed of that Owen faces, and that in all honesty we each face. Besides being an interesting tale of baseball, and youth, and following one’s dreams, and life in small-town rural America, “Steal Away Home” is so much more. It is a story of redemption; seeking and realizing that we all deserve love; believing that you are special and making your mark in life; finding our worth, and knowing that we have worth; “faith comes hardest for those who have much to lose;” and ensuring that we don’t remove Jesus from our dreams. Coffey is a master at developing deep and enigmatic, yet relatable characters. Owen is so beautifully written because, as the author notes, he most relates to Owen more than any other character he has written. Coffey is also an amazingly descriptive writer, pulling his readers deep into the scene with descriptions of New York City like “The only mountains are made of concrete and windows.” His novels usually contain some aspect of the supernatural. Coffey’s latest novel has less of this than usual, although there is an incident with a train that will deeply impact the characters and their choices that does have a slight supernatural vein. A very small disclaimer: there are a few incidents of mild cursing. Fans of baseball stories and life in small-town Americana will enjoy “Steal Away Home.” And an extra little goodie? Musician Eddie Heinzelman composed and performed an original song for “Steal Away Home” called “Dandelion.” Check it out at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qmLOWvkBIsg. Four and a half stars out of five. Thomas Nelson provided this complimentary copy for my honest, unbiased review.
hadassahmae More than 1 year ago
Published by: Thomas Nelson Written by: Billy Coffey I was excited to read and review this book because it sounded unique and because it had a baseball theme. I grew up following baseball and thought this book would be an interesting read. Steal Away Home tells the story of a mine living with regrets. Through flashbacks, this book shares the story of the man's past all while a baseball game is playing out in the present. Who This Book is For: I thought this would be a good book for baseball fans, but I don't really know who will like the whole weirdness of it. What I liked: The story definitely kept my attention, even if it left me confused. The characters were interesting. What I didn’t like: I don't get this book at all. I don't really know what the ending was supposed to mean. I don't know what the message was supposed to be. I don't know who in the story is supposed to be "good" and who isn't. I don't really understand any of it. Is it pro-suicide? Is that not what happened? Is it all imagined? I don't know if it's just me but I really did not get the book. There are some elements that Christians might not appreciate, including some language. My conclusion: Overall, I don't get this book and it left me feeling confused. I give Steal Away Home 2 out of 5 stars. I received this book free to review from BookLook. The opinions expressed in this review are my true thoughts and feeling regarding this book. I am disclosing this information in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I received a copy of this book from The Fiction Guild, I was not required to give a favorable review. I found this book very thought out. It was a story that made you think about human nature. I enjoyed it and recommend it to anyone who is looking for a great story.
LucyMR1 More than 1 year ago
I’m not a baseball fan, but this book made you feel like you were in the midst of the game inside Owen’s head as he reflects on regrets of the past and a girl from his past. It captures life in a small southern town where the poorest can not cross the barriers to associate with other classes. Owen and Micky break that barrier on a hill, but the love of baseball, religion, poor choices, and unforeseen circumstances surrounded in mystery keep you reading to find the answers. I was very disappointed in the ending, as my questions weren’t answered, but I rated this four stars because of the poetic phrasing and the fact that I couldn’t put it down. This novel won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, but to experience the words written in beauty should be experienced. The family dynamics aren’t idealistic, but are raw, gritty, and real. I received a complimentary copy from Thomas Nelson & Zondervan Fiction Guild. The honest review and opinions are my own and were not required.
AmberK1120 More than 1 year ago
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. I was really intrigued by the synopsis of this book. I’m a big fan of baseball (Go Brewers!) and I’m a sucker for a solid emotional read. Check and check. The only hesitation that I stemmed from the fact that this is a Christian publisher and I, personally, am not someone who prefers to read religion-based fiction. So, instead of jumping in feet first, I tip-toed into it. You know, like when you have to ease yourself into the pool because the water’s too cold. (I know I’m not the only one who’s a baby about cold pool water.) So yes, there is some religion in this book. If you’re like me and this is not a reading preference of yours, I’ll tell you that this was not a deterrent for me. It was not an overwhelming aspect of the story. The focus of the story was on Owen’s struggle to come to terms with his past, and the loss of Micky. I found myself getting lost in his memories. My world disappeared I was on the hill with Owen and Micky. They had a lot of struggles. They were from opposite sides of the tracks and couldn’t be seen together, they were young and trying to figure life out, and they wanted to save each other. It turned out to be exactly the type of emotional read I was seeking. I also enjoyed the setup of the story, the timeline over which it’s told. It starts in the present, with Owen showing up to his Big League debut and follows him through that game. Simultaneously, he’s reminiscing about his past as certain aspects of the game, teammates, and stadium remind him of the people and places he used to know. It had a nice flow to it, while also keeping it moving at a steady pace because there are only nine innings in a game and each inning brings you closer to the end of the book. Overall I’m really glad I gave this book a chance. If anything about this synopsis speaks to you, I’d recommend picking it up. It’s not an easy story to read, but it’s incredibly satisfying. And I think Owen and Micky will stay with you even after you turn the last page.
Heart2Heart More than 1 year ago
I've been in love with Billy Coffey's ability to weave a story so well, that you are instantly transported from wherever you are to wherever he decides to take you. He has a way with words that goes beyond what one can describe except to say that it is a true gift to spin such a story, it make you wonder if there isn't a nugget of truth in there somewhere and he is taking you back to one of his memories so you can see it like he did. I've had the delight to read each and every single novel he has written and they all come with a uniqueness that you are picking up something sacred. I've been reading his short stories through his blog for years and was thrilled when he began to write novels. You can sense that good ol' boy charm gleaned from the words that spill forth from the pages of his latest, Steal Away Home. I knew at some point in time we would see a story about Billy's love of baseball and feel this one is definitely a home run. One needs to understand something when you read one of his novels. They are all different in a sense that he is taking readers to often times, unexplored places within the character's mind to see things the way they did. In this novel it is through the eyes of Owen Cross, who like most young boys dreamed that one day he might make it to the big league spending childhood summers playing ball in sandlots with his friends. His natural ability is captivated upon by his father who watched his own dreams of making it into major league baseball slip away with a shoulder injury and now pushes Owen to the big dreams. The one thing competing with Owen is a young girl who has captured his heart much like baseball did. He hopes that when it makes it big, he will be able to pull Micky along with him and rescue her from the life of being a less-than living among the small community of Mattingly, mostly being what the upper classes would consider plain white trash. But Owen sees the same thing in her that his dad sees in him, the opportunity for so much more than they could even dream. The novel toggles back and forth from Owen's childhood and his time with Micky, to the current day where he is making a debut of sorts in the big league, filling in if needed. The story is magical in the sense that you feel like you're Owen, the struggles he faces when people try and keep him and Micky apart, the differences in their upbringing and the outcome of the future for them both. I received Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey compliments of Thomas Nelson Publishers and TLC Book Tours. This is such a beautiful story and I wasn't sure how receptive I would be of one involving a baseball player, but then movies like A League of Their Own and For the Love of the Game. It reminds you that times were simple in those days. Baseball was the epitome of technology and it is what drew people together for a common cause, to root for their team. I love the way Billy crafted this story in taking me back to those days of his childhood and how the decisions he made affect his future in ways no one could predict. Once again this one will sit like a priceless treasure in my own personal library and I can say it is getting full. Well down for hitting a grand slam in this novel and deserving of all 5 out of 5 stars in this reader's opinion.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is on my planned re-reads because I feel like I stepped into this book at the wrong time. It is something that based on the summary on Amazon I should just absolutely enjoy this. Good: You get a feel of the people and consistent feel of the book. It is well written. Bad: This took me awhile to get into to. I kept having to go through and re-read the first chapter to try to get my bearings. I enjoy sport themed stories one of my favorites is about a kid on a wrestling team. But this was hard to get into and feel at home in the story. It was a decent read nonetheless. Three stars simply because this was either the wrong time or I wasn't the right person for this book.
Laundry_Whispers More than 1 year ago
Before you remind me that I don’t like sporty things and of course I wouldn’t care for a book centered around baseball I have to tell you. Baseball is what saved this book for me. Yes, I don’t do sports. I don’t mind going to a stadium and watching a game. I don’t understand the game or really even care about the game but there’s something about the energy and spirit (if you will) about a crowd come together for something they are passionate about. And cuties. You are NEVER too old to appreciate cuties. That goes for almost any sport, almost. You will never see me curling up on the sofa to watch a sporty thing on TV, outside maybe like figure skating or gymnastics. Oh and diving, I really like platform diving. I picked up this book with the idea of a coming of age story between a love of baseball and a childhood sweetheart. I picked up this book thinking it was about leaving the game to come home and try to make things right. I didn’t get one whit of that. I got a lot of baseball. A whole game intermingled with these weird random flashbacks to one summer a decade or so ago. The intermingling of here and now didn’t begin to make sense. Not only were they awkward and cut deeply into any flow the story could have developed I kept wandering where his head was. If you are in a big league, major league sorry to the ballers out there, game then why aren’t you focused on the game? Why aren’t you thinking about the game? Why aren’t you wondering if you will get your shot on the turf? That alone was awkward for me but then the back story didn’t even go with the game at all. Nothing made sense! I didn’t get a feel for the characters. I got some interesting information about some name dropped players (I think they might be real players? I’ll have to ask Daddy). I got some interesting information about the logistics of baseball like the size of home plate and the dimensions of the infield. All things I didn’t know. But I have no idea what really happened with Micky. Throughout the story, at the train, or even at her end. I haven’t the faintest idea why Owen went back to the hill. I didn’t understand his motivation for a lot of things. This book left things so oddly open that I’m not sure if he was like an old dog going home to die on the hill or to commit suicide or just to live there under the tree in seclusion. There was not one bit of connection for me with this story. I desperately wanted there to be, the synopsis was so deeply intriguing. The truth is, baseball saved this book for me. And if that ain’t an oxymoron I don’t know what is. I was provided a complimentary copy of this book by NetGalley. I was not compensated for this review and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review.
brf1948 More than 1 year ago
Coffey writes, as usual, straight from the heart. All of his stories are completely different, without that common denominator we often see in even the best author. A story centered around the game of professional American baseball, Steal Away Home is a foray into the soul of man, woman, religion and most especially the South. By the top of the ninth inning, you know you are sitting at the foot of a literal giant. He plays a symphony on your heartstrings, and shines light on emotions as yet unseen. Billy Coffey has moved to the top of my must have southern author list. I received a free electronic copy of this novel from Netgalley, Billy Coffey, and Thomas Nelson Publisher in exchange for an honest review. Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.