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Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite
Over the Monster is an inspirational baseball novel written by Douglas Folsom. Harding Ambler's nine-year-old world revolved around his author dad, artist mom, big brother, Charles, and baseball. He was already a promising player in the local Little League in Woodstock, Vermont, but unlike most of his family and friends, Harding was a Yankees fan and proudly wore his number two uniform when he played. His birthday was a big event: his mom had made a chocolate cake and the family was going to A&W for dinner, but they never made it back home again -- only Harding survived. His grandparents, Allen and Hattie Ambler, took him home to their house on Cape Cod and were warm, loving and supporting, but it took years for Harding to learn to cope with his grief and his confusion over his having survived. Despite it all, there was still baseball in his life, however, once he had recovered enough to accept it, and his grandfather, known locally as Ty Ambler, was a consummate coach.
Douglas Folsom's inspirational sports novel, Over the Monster, starts with a tragedy, but the reader quickly gets involved in the relationship between Ty Ambler and his grandson. Folsom's Cape Cod setting is marvelous, and I started seriously considering a vacation trip after reading about their trip over the coast on a friend's small plane. Over the Monster is a heartwarming coming of age story that seems to have everything finally going Harding's way until he accepts a ride from his old friend, James, and ends up ensnared in the wheels of justice. It's a drastic situation for an author to put his character into, but somehow it works marvelously, perhaps because these kinds of things do happen in real life, and the reader can identify with it so well. I loved the baseball theme of Over the Monster, especially that part of the book concerning Harding's vision and creation of the prison team. This is one of those books that you get wrapped up in and then feel just a bit disoriented and sad when it's finally over. It's most highly recommended.