This story is about a professional baseball player who is accused of using illegal performance-enhancing drugs. He’s been framed, of course—our hero would never actually do something like that—so there’s a who-dunnit aspect to the story, but what carries us page by page is the detailed and complicated daily emotional life of the protagonist.
Consider this: in a novel of 8,600 words, the main character deals with the steroids catastrophe, sick children, bills, identity theft, an elderly father who resurfaces after three years of no contact, betrayal by a loved one, and traffic (an issue addressed by many Seattle-area writers, although this story takes place in Boston). In action and conversation, the protagonist navigates relationships with friends and teammates, a wife, two young children, a twin brother, and his estranged dad. Through minimal backstory, we learn of childhood dreams, and the death of his mother in a car accident a few years ago. That’s pretty amazing!
What I especially enjoy is reading this young author’s portrayal of family life. The protagonist, Tristan McWrong, is 30 years old, his wife is 33, and their sons are 8 and 4. The husband and wife share household chores and childcare. Look how sensitively Tristan responds when he discovers that someone has accessed their finances:
Tristan still couldn’t believe that their bank account had been hacked. Although they had cancelled all their cards, so they were safe, the thing was, he didn’t feel safe. Tristan felt unsafe. Fragile, that was the word. Like if someone touched him he could crumble.
When his father suddenly reappears after years of no contact, Tristan goes straight to his wife and asks if they can have a “serious talk.” They are attentive and helpful to each other during every crisis, no matter whether it’s large or small.
And look at this final paragraph, keeping in mind that the author is a 12-year-old boy:
Crack! He watched to make sure it was a home run, then Tristan McWrong looked up into the stands as he rounded first base to see his family: his wife Aria, his little boy, Jordan, and his youngest boy, William. Yep, this is an awesome life, he thought as he stepped onto home plate and into a screaming mob of teammates. The final score was Mariners: one, Red Sox: ten. Game over.
Hit and Run was written by a young man who loves sports, but who is equally intrigued by the game of life. It’s evident that he’d like to see both played with respect and integrity, and it’s a real treat to see him explore that idea in writing.