I asked for suggestions for a book to read at a time when I was feeling out of sorts and having trouble getting into anything I picked up.
Many books were put forth, several of which had been on my “to read” list for quite a while. I had more books on my shelf that I was looking forward to reading. None of those called to me, perhaps because I was concerned about my mood getting in the way of something I’d normally enjoy.
Instead I picked up this new-to-me title, one that wasn’t necessarily a book that would really register on my radar. It turned out to be a very good choice– thank you to Kyle for suggesting it.
Summary via Algonquin Books::
Hope is hard to come by in the hard-luck town of Willow Creek. Sam Pickett and five young men are about to change that.
Sam Pickett never expected to settle in this dried-up shell of a town on the western edge of the world. He’s come here to hide from the violence and madness that have shattered his life, but what he finds is what he least expects. There’s a spirit that endures in Willow Cree, Montana. It seems that every inhabitant of this forgotten outpost has a story, a reason for taking a detour to this place–or a reason for staying.
As the coach of the hapless high school basketball team (zero wins, ninety-three losses), Sam can’t help but be moved by the bravery he witnesses in the everyday lives of people–including his own young players–bearing their sorrows and broken dreams. How do they carry on, believing in a future that seems to be based on the flimsiest of promises? Drawing on the strength of the boys on the team, sharing the hope they display despite insurmountable odds, Sam finally begins to see a future worth living.
Blind Your Ponies is a tale of a small town. Almost everyone there has a big story. The adults are almost all there as a reaction to their past. These stories have an effect on the teens growing up, filtering down.
There are 6 boys on the basketball team. One seemed to have a fairly routine life (and very little time in the story). Two had relatively routine teen drama, and 3 had big stories, as did the coach and the assistant coach.
The biggest story of all was how these 6 kids came together to form a team with hopes of breaking at 90+ game losing streak against much bigger teams, with more resources of every sort to draw from.
I admit, I skimmed the long, in depth descriptions of the basketball games. I’m glad they were there, since they gave me a sense of what was really happening for the boys, but they aren’t what drew me into the story.
It was really the story of coach Sam Pickett learning from his team to put himself out there and take risks again. Sam’s story and character were compelling, and I was rooting for him as he took two steps forward then two steps back.
I loved seeing the team come together, but I don’t think the book succeeded in capturing the individual voices of the boys, or of any of the other characters except maybe Grandma. Grandma was a great character, with a perfect mix of loving care of her grandson (and pets), tenacious perseverance in the face of adversity, and elderly disregard for what anyone else thinks of her behavior.
The town was made up of great characters, and although I liked each individual story, the weight of all of them got to be a big much at times. Still, the tandem bicycle abandoned in a lover’s quarrel many years ago was one of the sweetest romances I’ve come across in a while.
Overall, Blind your Ponies was an enjoyable, inspirational read.