Where the Falcon Flies, by August Sterling. Barringer Publishing. 280 pages. Trade paperback $14.95.
This is a very sweet novel: gentle, buoyant, and inspiring. Can sweetness thrive in contemporary fiction? I’m pleased to know that books like this one are being written and published. They deserve an audience. Enough with the doom and darkness already!
Cassie “The Falcon” Peregrine is an attractive, sensitive young woman just finishing junior college. Baseball is her passion, the arena in which she feels fulfilled and at home. From the Chicago area suburban village of Hebron, this avid Cubs fan plays for a local team in a semi-pro league. She is well-liked, with supportive parents who respect her wishes while worrying about her future.
Her life begins to change rapidly when a savvy, respected scout sees her play. Brock Starwood, who scouts for the Cubs system, comes to check out a pitching prospect on the opposing team. However, Cassie’s all-around play and all-out style captivates him. Although no women were playing in the minor leagues, Starwood feels that Cassie has the talent to go all the way to the majors.
He knew the obstacles that stood in her way: tradition, male chauvinism, taunting, and worse. Nevertheless, Starwood made an appointment to meet Cassie and her family, and the outcome was the offer of a three-year contract to play for the Berkshire Bears, the AA league affiliate of the Chicago Cubs. Only Starwood could have persuaded the higher-ups to make such a deal; he was courageous enough to put his reputation on the line.
Once Cassie signs, she is off to her new home in Pittsfield, Massachusetts.
August Sterling does a fine job of characterizing Cassie both as a young woman and as “The Falcon,” a fledgling professional second baseman. He shows her in the context of family and friends as well as in the context of the ball field, the dugout, and the locker room. The tension between these two identities provides considerable interest and suspense.
As Cassie takes the long auto trip to Pittsfield, her thoughts involve this same tension, a mixture of anxiety and ambition. By the time she makes a stopover in Cooperstown, New York to pay homage to the greats memorialized the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Mr. Sterling has quite fully won his readers over. We care about Cassie: her dream and her destiny.
Once she is introduced to the team, her trials and opportunities begin. Cassie balks (clever choice?) at any hint of favoritism because she is a woman, knowing this is already suspected and will backfire anyway. And yet she must accept private living quarters and private bathroom facilities. She doesn’t so much want to be one of the boys, but one of the team members. . . .
To read the entire review, as it appears in the February 4, 2015 Fort Myers Florida Weekly, the February 5 Naples and Bonita Springs editions, and the February 19 Palm Beach Gardens/Jupiter and Palm Beach/West Palm Beach editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Sterling 1 and here: Florida Weekly – Sterling 2.