John Tilden's glory days are far behind him, and now it seems like all he has is the monotony of every day living. He certainly thought there'd be more to it than his ramshackle Oklahoma farm and a mundane job coaching basketball at his old high school. He questions his fatherhood skills too: his oldest son won't speak to him, his younger son wants to quit the basketball team, and now his daughter wants to go out on dates. He loves his wife, but the marriage has settled into complacency.
Now his twentieth high school reunion looms and he has agreed to play in an exhibition game at the reunion, which is sure to be a wretched joke. And his ex-girlfriend's back in town, newly single.
Twenty years is plenty long enough for a man to mope after what might have been. It's time for John to make himself understand that.
Seven years after his acclaimed novel Free Bird, Garrett, a professor of English at Baylor University, returns to fiction with a family love story that starts as slow as the pace in the Oklahoma farming town where it's set. The plot picks up steam when John Tilden unpacks his past in first-person narration. A class reunion and alumni basketball game planned in the small community churn up a midlife crisis for this married man with kids, stirring up his glory days of basketball and girls. The writing is titillating for Christian fiction but believable as the narrator fights the temptation of a former lover and recent divorc ("The two of us in my truck flashed into my head, and it took a moment of mental wrestling to body slam it to the mat"). The book explores faithfulness in marriage and friendship through rich, believable characters. Punchy dialogue, particularly the funny exchanges between rancher father and newly vegetarian daughter, should bring knowing nods from parents of teens. Shame plows deep furrows in the heart a slam dunk for Garrett.