“Paint the Black” by J. D. Dudycha
Baseball, fiction, young adult, minor league, faith, Christianity
June 2, 2015
4 of 5 stars (very good)
Jack Burke was an eighteen-year-old high school pitching phenom who was selected in the first round of the Major League Baseball draft. He opted to sign a contract with a big signing bonus and what Jack encounters along the way are lessons that many young adults face when encountering difficult situations or even when hopes and dreams don’t work out the way they were planned.
J.D. Dudycha’s story of Jack is a very entertaining and compelling read because from the day that Jack is drafted, he has decisions to make. However, a combination of immaturity, addiction and poor work ethics lead to some of those decisions having negative consequences. While reading the book, I had a hard time connecting with Jack, something that is important to me while reading a fictional story, no matter what the topic.
He always seemed to make the wrong choice, even when he knew it would be wrong. There is a teammate of his during his minor league baseball career who got him in trouble once, so when this same teammate was egging him on to participate in a prank that eventually cost Jack his career, I could not figure out why Jack followed this same person for a second time.
Even when Jack realizes that chasing women is not his style and he has strong feelings for one particular woman, I had a hard time understanding why she kept taking his calls or kept trying to talk to him. While this can and does happen in real life, I still couldn’t relate to Jack’s constant self-destructive behavior, I had a hard time understanding why Sarah was still talking to him. By the end of the story when everything was coming together, it made sense but during the story, it felt a little far-fetched. Not only the relationship between Sarah and Jack, but how so many bad things were happening at such a breakneck pace.
The baseball sections of the book are very good and any baseball fan will enjoy reading them. Not only for the game action, but also the lifestyle of young minor league ballplayers who are chasing the dream. It helped put a proper perspective how why Jack acted like he did and also on how cruel the system can be on players who don’t make good on their dreams.
There are many aspects to Jack’s story that are good lessons for young people – how love of family is one of the strongest bonds that one has, how one’s faith (in Jack’s case, Christianity) can help guide a young person through trouble, the dangers of alcohol and drug addiction, and the grief of suffering the loss of a family member.
Despite the issues I had with Jack’s character, by the end of the book a reader will walk away feeling inspired and like he or she learned some valuable lessons. These lessons are aimed at young adults but some of the points made are good for people of all ages. As a former baseball coach of players of Jack’s age, it is clear that Dudycha is drawing on experience in this story and the result is a good story of a young man coming of age and realizing what is important to him.
I wish to thank Mr. Dudycha for providing a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.
Pace of the book:
I found this be a very fast paced book as Jack never seemed to have any calm moments, going from one crisis to the next. While it certainly wasn’t easy on him, it seemed to make it easier for the reader to follow along.
Do I recommend?
Yes on several fronts. It is a great book for young adults, male or female, athlete or non-athlete, to illustrate how love and faith can help guide them. It is a good sports book for a glimpse into the life of players in the lower minor leagues. Finally, it is a good book to pick up if a reader just wants to escape for a brief time and see how much trouble a young man can get into, and how he pulls himself out.
Book Format Read: