Top positive review
"Huck, Baseball and the Road to Providence"
Reviewed in the United States on July 6, 2012
"Another fact about Mom. When it comes to things, like a house, one perfect detail can blind her to all its flaws. When it comes to people, one imperfection can blind her to all that's good." - Billy Albright
At almost sixteen, Billy Albright thinks he has himself pretty much figured out. His father having died in a car accident before he was born, Billy was raised by his fundamentalist Christian mother to be both a man of faith and an active crusader to see God's will done. They've moved so often (primarily because some of his mother's schemes to `whale on Satan" have crossed legal boundaries) that Billy thinks of himself as a "jump-around Jesus freak." And even if Billy has had a few more doubts about their lifestyle recently and a yearning for a more normal life (he'd like to go to a regular high school and he dreams of being a mountain biking champion), all in all he's okay with his Mom and his faith. All that changes when the f-bomb drops on Billy's life.
The f-bomb is Billy's father, the man he never met. He's heard his mother's story of his long dead paternal parent so many times, Billy knows it by heart. The important fact here is long dead, only it turns out he isn't. Because Billy's father sends him a recorded letter and that one DVD explodes Billy's entire world. He learns that his mother, whom he has always trusted implicitly, has lied to him - in more ways than one. If he wants to learn more about his father, and he does, then Billy is going to have to follow a series of clues on a journey across the country. At the end may be an elusive inheritance; along the way, he makes an unlikely friend, meets a girl with an unlikely skin tone and gets blackmailed by unlikeable con artists. And when he finally gets where he's going, Billy just might find himself.
Brian Meehl is rapidly moving up my favorite Y.A. authors list. This is the second of his books that I've read (the first was Suck It Up) and while the genres and plots of the two novels are very different, they both have unique style, excellent writing, perfect pacing and main characters with absolutely wonderful voices. I loved everything about Billy Albright, especially his struggle to balance the sheltered and narrow life he's led with his mother with the wide, wondrous world he sees on his journey. Great books about boys written by male authors are rare and this modern day tribute to Huckleberry Finn really shines.