I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Author: Kelly Loy Gilbert
Publication Date: May 19, 2015
Summary (from Goodreads): Ten years ago, God gave Braden a sign, a promise that his family wouldn’t fall apart the way he feared. But Braden got it wrong: his older brother, Trey, has been estranged from the family for almost as long, and his father, the only parent Braden has ever known, has been accused of murder. The arrest of Braden’s father, a well-known Christian radio host has sparked national media attention. His lies in his son’s hands; Braden is the key witness in his father’s upcoming trial. Braden has always measured himself through baseball. He is the star pitcher in his small town of Ornette, and his ninety-four mile per hour pitch already has minor league scouts buzzing in his junior year. Now the rules of the sport that has always been Braden’s saving grace are blurred in ways he never realized, and the prospect of playing against Alex Reyes, the nephew of the police officer his father is accused of killing, is haunting his every pitch. Braden faces an impossible choice, one that will define him for the rest of his life, in this brutally honest debut novel about family, faith, and the ultimate test of conviction.
A gripping story that tells of one boy’s struggle to understand who he is and where he came from. Conviction is one of those books that will resonate with its audience on so many levels. Kelly Loy Gilbert has created a novel that provides readers with a relatable protagonist, deals with many issues that need to be explored and uses baseball as an amazing analogy to tie it all together.
Braden, the main character in Conviction, is a teenage boy who appears to be an all round American kid. He is well liked by everyone in his town and is the star pitcher for the town’s baseball team. There are some family secrets, however, that Braden must keep to himself and come to terms with. It is easy to understand Braden’s struggles and his character flaws make him an even more lovable character in this story. Readers will feel his pain and empathize immediately with Braden. Kelly Loy Gilbert sets the stage for what is to come by brilliantly making you fall in love with Braden.
There are an unbelievable number of social issues explored in this novel. From race relations to homosexuality, to family and faith. Braden is coming of age in Conviction and is sorting each of these issues out for himself. It is through Braden that the reader is taken on a journey of self discovery and how a teenager must deal and decide upon his/her beliefs. Braden struggles with his own political convictions while his father awaits a decision regarding his own legal conviction.
It is the method that Kelly Loy Gilbert uses in her novel, Conviction, to aid Braden on his journey of self discovery and help readers to understand that sets this book apart from others. Baseball becomes an incredible analogy throughout this story to explain life and Braden’s struggles. It is baseball and the understanding he has for how the game is played that sees him through and guides him towards an understanding.
This debut novel by Kelly Loy Gilbert is one that really gets readers to think and question themselves. It is also a story that deeply explores various social issues. It is a book that will make you explore your own beliefs.