Thursday, September 15, 2011

"Home, Away" author launches new parenting blog

Baseball was the vehicle Jeff Gillenkirk used to drive his novel Home, Away (Chin Music Press, 2010), though the author will tell you the story is first and foremost about family, particularly the relationship between pitcher Jason Thibodeaux and his son Rafe. Gillenkirk, himself a divorced father, originally pitched a nonfiction book on fatherhood, focusing on dads who wanted to remain active in their children's lives. When agents and publishers failed to bite, he set it aside until the baseball angle played out in his head.

I've written about Home, Away a number of times since first reviewing it in May 2010. I loved it and included it among my Top 10 Baseball Books list on Baseball America last year. Despite my championing, it sadly doesn't seem to have found the readership I always felt it deserved, but such is the life of many great books released by small publishers.

What Gillenkirk did so masterfully was create real characters, who draw the reader into their pain and anger as they tear apart their young family. Thibodeaux's marriage unravels after he spends two years almost singlehandedly rearing his son while his wife pursues her degree. His reward for all that effort is losing Rafe in a vicious custody battle. After missing a huge chunk of his son's childhood, Thibodeaux is forced to choose between his baseball career and his kid, when Rafe becomes too much for his mother to handle.

A strong advocate of father's rights (and responsibilities), Gillenkirk has launched a new website called DadsatBat where he hopes to further discussion on the topic of fathering. He has written articles for Parenting magazine depicting fathers trying to do the right thing for their children and has spent years studying the subject. His first two posts focus on the positive impact on a child's emotional well-being when their father remains a part of their life after divorce and a study that shows a correlation between testosterone and parenting.

As a relatively new father myself, I can't imagine not being a part of my son's life. Not being with him every day would be more painful than losing a limb. (At least as I imagine it, I'm not eager to actually put this theory to the test.) I find myself pulled in by stories about parenting now that I would have passed right over five or ten years ago. So I'll definitely be checking in to see what I can learn on DadsatBat, and I encourage anyone else interested in father-child relationships to take a look as well.

And if you haven't yet read Home, Away, what are you waiting for? This would be a terrific book for a reading group, because there's just so much here to talk about. Get on it. Call your reading group and slot it in for an upcoming month. Lively conversation will almost certainly ensue.

3 comments:

  1. Update from Jeff Gillenkirk: The e-book edition of Home, Away is now at $2.99. How can you go wrong? Fire up those Kindles.

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  3. I have read "Home, Away" and I think it's a great book. I am looking forward for his new parenting blog.

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