ISBN #: 978-0991515318
Page Count: 474
Copyright: September 14, 2014
Publisher: Oldbrook Books
(Taken from Amazon)
Catch Us If You Can is a coming-of-age tale of small town but urban youth growing up in the late 1960s trying to untangle the answer to Bruce Springsteen's haunting question: "Is a dream a lie if it don't come true or is it something worse?"
It is 1967. In Oldbrook, where basketball is a religion and making the high school team is a confirmation, Gene Gennaro is sailing through his freshman year, blown along by the steady prevailing innocent winds of the time — sports, girls, and Rock & Roll. When a tragedy thrusts him into a new world forever rocked by the fateful day, he begins a journey through the berserk times. For Gene, the Summer of Love is a summer of healing, buoyed by The Beatles and basketball. The next three frenetic years of high school are a lifeline as unbreakable as the fidelity of his friendships with five basketball teammates; most of all, Reuben, his best buddy since before kindergarten, whose lifeline at times turns into the rope for a tug-of-war between fate and will, testing their classically loyal friendship.
In the beginning we see that Gene has come back for his 40-year high school reunion. He and Reuben, Gene's best childhood friend, are walking through the old neighborhood reminiscing. Some memories are good and some are ... well ... not so good. It's one of these not-so-good memories that draws the reader into the novel. As the reader continues their exploration into Gene's memories of his high school years, it's expected that the story is building up to the climax of Gene's not-so-good memory that compels the reader to continue. And, while the climax is climatic in its own way, it's not really what I was expecting.
After I finished reading the novel, I sat and contemplated it for a day or so trying to figure out what the purpose of telling Gene's story was. It's not a light read that you can finish in an afternoon. It's focused around basketball, but Gene's not a main player. He mostly sits on the bench. What could be learned from this novel are two things: 1.) things are not always as they appear and 2.) life keeps moving on regardless of what happens.
Gene thought he knew his friends pretty well, especially Reuben. Reuben was portrayed as being everyone's conscious. He always fought for what was right. Reuben never participated in anything shady. Then, after a basketball game one day, Reuben goes berserk and Gene finds out that Reuben took a pill from one of their friends before the game. Gene believed Reuben to be the one friend that he had a relationship with where there were no secrets between them. Finding out that Reuben was hiding something was a wake-up call and growing moment for Gene. He realized, as we all do at some point in our lives, that even friends don't always reveal everything about themselves to others. Maybe it's because they're afraid of being judged or they feel guilty. Whatever the reason, nobody is 100% completely, openly honest with any other human and Gene learned that late in high school.
The personal tragedy that Gene went through was life-altering. To have so much ripped away from you in one moment was heart-wrenching. I'm not going to say that Gene dealt with that situation the best possible way, but he did deal with it a lot better than I would have expected him to.
Catch Us If You Can isn't one of those novels that you can rave about right away. Rather, it's a novel that needs to be thought about and discussed to contemplate the deeper meanings behind the story. I enjoyed this novel for that very reason.
*A physical copy of this novel was provided by the publicist in exchange for an honest review.