Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Review of 'The Legend of Mickey Tussler' by Frank Nappi

The Legend of Mickey TusslerThe Legend of Mickey Tussler

In the late 1940s, the minor league Milwaukee Brewers are foundering yet again and manager Arthur Murphy is desperate. When he sees seventeen-year old Mickey Tussler throwing apples into a barrel, he knows he has found the next pitching phenom. But not everyone is so hopeful. Mickey’s autism—a disorder still not truly understood even today—has alienated the boy from the world, and he is berated by other players and fans. Mickey faces immense trials in the harsh and competitive world of baseball while coping with the challenges inherent to his disorder. An honest and knowledgeable book about overcoming adversity, and the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes, Mickey’s powerful story shows that with support and determination anyone can be triumphant, even when the odds are stacked against him.  

**My thoughts**

I was drawn to this book for two reasons. First, I read one of Frank Nappi's other books, Nobody Has to Know a couple of months ago, and was blown away by his writing. Second, I have a strong heart for autism, as I encounter it regularly through my teaching job, in the community, and in my friends' children. 

Frank Nappi again masterfully handles what could be a delicate topic and situation in his character Mickey. Mickey is high functioning autistic. His talent is pitching baseballs that no one can hit. His obsessions are his pet pig and counting. When he is frustrated, he rocks back and forth and recites a poem he learned from his mother. Yes, a lot of this does sound a lot more like Rainman, about whom I did think a lot while reading this book. Rainman was a more rare example of autism, both as a character and in real life. Mickey just feels so much more familiar to me. 

Murphy is highly protective of Mickey. The other guys on the team make fun of him and even mistreat him, despite his prowess on the field. As time goes on, though, they learn to respect him and possibly even admire him a bit. This doesn't happen without an uphill battle, though, parts of which are horrifying, and it's an inspirational one.

Reading the book made me think of some of the good Stephen King stories, and possibly a John Grisham or two. The writing is strong. The characters are vivid. I felt comfortable reading them, like I knew them. I also thought he captured the voice of the time period.

I have the second book in the series, as well, and can't wait to read that one. I have heard that a third one is possibly in the works. Preview the second book below.  

Purchase The Legend of Mickey Tussler on Amazon.

Sophomore CampaignSophomore Campaign

It’s 1949 and eighteen-year-old pitching phenom Mickey Tussler is back with the rejuvenated minor league Brewers in the sequel to The Legend of Mickey Tussler (the basis for the television movie A Mile in His Shoes). Despite Mickey’s proclamation that he will never play baseball again after last season’s violent conclusion, his manager—and now surrogate father—Arthur Murphy cajoles the emotionally fragile, socially awkward boy with autism into giving it another shot. Mickey reluctantly returns to the field and must once again cope with the violence and hatred around him. When a young African American player joins the team, the entire team is subjected to racial threats and episodes of violence, one of which Mickey witnesses firsthand. Struggling to understand such ugliness and hatred, and fearful of reprisal should he tell anyone about what he has seen, the boy’s performance on the field suffers. Mickey now must deal with a side of human nature he scarcely comprehends.

Purchase Sophomore Campaign on Amazon.

Frank NappiAbout Author Frank Nappi

Frank Nappi has taught high school English and Creative Writing for over twenty years. His debut novel, Echoes From The Infantry, received national attention, including MWSA's silver medal for outstanding fiction. His follow-up novel, The Legend of Mickey Tussler, garnered rave reviews as well, including a movie adaptation of the touching story "A Mile in His Shoes" starring Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. Frank continues to produce quality work, including Sophomore Campaign, the intriguing sequel to the much heralded original story and the just released thriller, NOBODY HAS TO KNOW, which received an endorsement from #1 New York Times bestselling author Nelson DeMille. Frank is presently at work on a third installment of his Mickey Tussler series and his next thriller. He lives on Long Island with his wife Julia and their two sons, Nicholas and Anthony.  

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