by Jake Smith
As far as "missional fiction" books go this was probably the best I've read yet. I love reading fiction but at the same time I like to read books that challenge me as a person or promote valuable organizations or programs. This book was written to raise awareness for the great need for bone marrow donors and promoted the "Be the Match" website.
The story of nine year old Aaron is heartbreaking. He's already battled cancer once and entered remission and now it is back. And he has a rare type to match for a bone marrow transplant that would save his life and no one in his family or already on the donor list matches nationwide. Meanwhile as they continue treatment and pray for a match Aaron gets to meet his favorite baseball player! Did I mention that the only thing the father and son in the book really care about is baseball? Well Aaron gets to meet this guy and his wife and he makes ONE request and it isn't even for himself! He requests that his dad, a former high school/college baseball player, get to play in ONE major league baseball game.
This book outlines the relationship between Aaron and his father, James. It shows the importance of the father/son relationship. It shows the importance of having a hobby and something to look forward to when facing cancer. It shows the commitment it takes sometimes to make a person's dreams come true. I love how much James loves Aaron in this book. And while it was incredibly sad to read parts of this book I appreciate the realness of the description of what James calls "The Place." The pit of despair. The depression. The worry. The all-consuming fear that his son might die from cancer and there is nothing he can do about it.
I think it was a little far fetched that the kid got to wish for his dad to play in a major league game. I would have found the book a little more believable and interesting if the dad had simply been able to practice with a major league team. It was fun to read about him getting to play in the game though and I realize the book was fiction.
I loved Aaron's character's vast knowledge of baseball! Even the major league players and coaches he met couldn't stump him when the asked him trivia questions! I grew up with a deep love for baseball so it was really easy to connect with the characters in this book. I think the only thing that would have helped me connect even more with Aaron would have been if he collected baseball cards to go along with all his memorized stats!
This book is not for the faint of heart. It deals with deeply sad situations with cancer. But it renews your faith in the importance of family. And it reminds you that YOU could be the person to save a person's life with a bone marrow donation.