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Sophomore Campaign – Frank Nappi

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Sophomore Campaign by Frank Nappi

Publisher: Sky Pony Press

I have been a huge fan of author Frank Nappi since I read his debut novel, the award-winning Echoes from the Infantry: A Novel in 2005. My faith in his great potential was rewarded; since then he has written The Legend of Mickey Tussler: A Novel which was released as a film last September and is now a DVD. Movie title is A Mile in His Shoes, starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder.

And now Nappi has penned Sophomore Campaign: A Mickey Tussler Novel, the exciting sequel which is also slated for film.

Sophomore Campaign picks up where “Mickey Tussler” left off, with Mickey, the autistic young baseball player, and Arthur Murphy, the coach who discovers him, entering another season of minor league baseball for the beloved Milwaukee Brewers.

Mickey’s mother Molly finally leaves his abusive father and they move in with Murph, who is very good to them, nurturing them in all ways. He becomes a surrogate father to Mickey, while Molly and Murph develop feelings for each other, but agree to keep it platonic.

After last season’s violent conclusion, Molly is reluctant for Mickey to play again this year; she fears their main rival team might get violent again, damaging her son’s spirit beyond repair.

With a wicked pitching arm, Mickey has become the team’s most valuable asset and is idolized by baseball fans all over. When in the game, he overcomes his social awkwardness and mental fragility, and due to Murph’s tender, loving care, he certainly learns all about baseball.

The trouble starts this season with the opposing pitcher holding a huge grudge against Mickey for gaining such popularity. With the approval of his unethical coach, he plans to undermine Mickey at every opportunity, even to cruelty, if need be. But the real trouble commences with Murph hiring an African American ballplayer with raw talent and great potential.

Remember, this is set in the 40s when prejudice was still pretty rampant… It’s enough to say that the entire team is subjected to racial threats and violent episodes, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. His struggles to understand such ugliness and hatred affect his game… That’s all I can say without giving spoilers.

Why does Molly Tussler finally consent for her son to play again? What happens when fans quit attending games because of their outdated prejudices, and how do the fans treat the new player Sledge? How does this effect Mickey? What happens between the club owner and Coach Murph? And how does the Klu Klux Klan become involved?

But for romantics, the main question is what finally happens between Murphy and Molly?

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the answers to those questions, and I’m certain you will, also. Frank Nappi is a gifted writer who understands human nature and has a clear, concise way of presenting his stories. He makes his characters, the games and the scenery come alive before your eyes. I really care what happens to each and every one of them; even while rooting for the bad guys to get their comeuppance…

Despite representing the 40s accurately (with all its prejudice), this is a very wholesome, inspiring book. You will end up admiring this author as much as you love the spirit of Mickey Tussler, a role model for autistic children everywhere.

Since “The Legend of Mickey Tussler” was a homerun, Sophomore Campaign is a grand slam!

Very highly recommended…

Reviewer: Betty Dravis

Betty Dravis is an award-winning newspaper publisher and career journalist/cable TV talk show host. She’s a celebrity interviewer and award-winning author (and co-author) of seven books. This devoted mother and grandmother is an honorary Kentucky Colonet, in two Whos’ Who books, San Jose Woman of Achievement, etc. Her most recent awards are: Best Paranormal/Horror (with co-author Barbara Watkins); she recently placed #18 in Fourth Annual Shorty Awards and in Top 20 of 2011 Best Women’s Fiction. Visit Betty at her website, Facebook page, and Amazon author page.

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