The Hole By Hole
Virtual Bookstore Reviews
I donít know about you, but ninth grade is not a part of my life Iíd like to live all over again.
Of course, Tony Rosa didnít know that when he asked me to review his new book.
Nonetheless, as I read this short novel about a fourteen-year-old boy and his reluctant participation in a junior golf tournament at a scruffy public course, I re-experienced several aspects of the emotional turbulence that I donít fondly recall from when I was that same age a long time ago.
That is to Rosaís credit, and should actually be taken as a recommendation. Anyone who can successfully re-create the young teenís awkward sense of semi-competence, self-doubt, and urgent need to know where they fit in among their peers is to be congratulated.
Sam Parma lives with his widowed mother, an older sister, and his younger brother in decidedly modest circumstances. His familyís been in the area for a while, long enough for one of his relations to have won the local Schoolboy tournament several years ago. Samís grandfather and mother have apparently decided that Sam should carry on the family tradition of participating in the event, even though Samís primary sports interests lie elsewhere.
To make matters more interesting, and to this reader more factually convincing, Sam has to bring his younger brother along, and keep an eye out for him while he plays. Considering that the tournament players are to be separated by age groups, that wonít be easy.
Samís more immediate difficulty occurs as soon as he meets his three playing partners, all of whom will be familiar to the boys reading this book as well as their fathers.
One boy is not averse to cheating, swearing, and otherwise trying to fit a deeply flawed model of what it means to be far older than he really is.
Another player is frankly threatening, towering over the younger Sam and as ready to abuse those playing with him as the course itself. The third golfer is from the country club set, out of Samís social league at that point, but at least he doesnít seem to act like Samís superior in every respect.
Sam is smaller and younger than any of them, and itís by no means a sure thing that heíll be able to live up to his familyís expectations, at least as he understands them at the time.
Rosaís description of the tournament action among the four players shows either how autobiographical this book really is, or that Rosaís had years of experience watching junior tournaments.
For any adult golfer whoís had that pleasure, these scenes will be familiar.
Excess displays of emotion for both good and bad swings are common. Fractured attempts at swearing will be made, but we know that practice will eventually make perfect. The boys will frequently distract themselves with their conversations and what they see when they traipse into the woods for a lost ball. Even more impressive is their undeserved but persistent belief in their ability to make the perfect recovery shot under any conditions, and their mystified response when it doesnít work.
Itís a slim story, but one worth telling. For the young golfers reading it, theyíll be reassured to learn that theyíre not so different from their peers. For older readers, they may experience a sometimes-wincing remembrance of their own past, tinged with occasional fondness.
Review date: November 23, 2006
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