From Publishers Weekly
anchor Lehrer mixes baseball, WWII and romance in his 19th novel to mostly pleasant results. Even though Johnny Wrigley, from smalltown Lafayette, Md., is being scouted by the Detroit Tigers, he enlists in the Marines in April 1944 to kill Japs for America. En route to deployment, Johnny meets Betsy, a striking but naïvely religious doughnut girl, falls instantly in love and seduces her. He vows he'll return for her, a quixotic obsession that sustains him through grittily rendered combat scenes in the Pacific. At the war's end, Johnny returns with marriage on his mind. But Betsy can't be found, and Johnny ends up in Baltimore with a menial bus company job and his big league dreams rekindled. But those, like his romantic fantasy, remain out of reach. Though Johnny's obsessive love for Betsy is a bit hard to swallow, his troubled postwar reintegration is nicely handled and gives readers insight into a Greatest Generation leatherneck. (Mar.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
High-school baseball star Johnny Wrigley’s talents earn him a professional baseball contract, but Johnny enlists in the marines to kill Japanese before joining his heroes, center fielders Pete Reiser and Joe DiMaggio, in the major leagues. On a troop train headed for the West Coast, at a 30-minute stop in Wichita, Johnny meets and falls in love with a girl he knows only as Betsy. What he calls Betsy luck helps him survive the bloody invasions of Peleliu and Okinawa, and as soon as he’s discharged, Johnny heads for Wichita to find Betsy and marry her. He fails and must try to settle into civilian life and resume his baseball career, but the horrors he’s seen make it harder than he expected. Later, he does find Betsy and must confront the realization that time and experiences have changed them both. PBS anchor Lehrer has crafted a profoundly sad and beautiful story of promise and hope crushed by war, of youthful infatuation, and of the wholesale carnage of World War II that wounded much of a generation worldwide. --Thomas Gaughan