As a metaphor in life, chin music is the split second when destinies are altered and all of our certainties about who we are change forever. Sixteen-year-old Ryan Buck is a talented athlete who was fortunate to escape with minor injuries from the horrific car crash that devastated his family. But factor in the suffocating guilt and the recurring nightmare that plagues him and maybe Ryan wasn't so lucky, after all. Two-and-a-half years and countless hours of therapy later, Ryan still can't remember a thing about the accident and it's making for agonizingly slow progress.
But everything changes when his mom, Susan, is forced to sell the old Babe Ruth artifacts that have been in the family for years. Enter Sam Frank, a Yoda-like figure, who saves Susan from making a costly mistake. Sam's friendship and knowledge provides the support Susan needs to investigate a secret that has plagued her family for generations the remarkable encounter between her great grandmother, Zel, and the immortal Yankee slugger.
As Ryan slowly makes progress, baseball becomes an important outlet, emotionally and physically. When his superior talent for the sport is recognized, a chance at the major leagues becomes a reality, leaving Susan torn between her excitement at Ryan's prospects and protecting her family from the truth that will turn their world upside down. When the facts emerge, it becomes a story with startling implications for the Buck family, baseball, and sports fans across America.
There are two stories in the book that take place in different generations.
Zel is a barber in the mid 1920s. Because she's female, she has to work harder to get customers. Babe Ruth and two other baseball players walk into the barbershop one day and Babe chooses her to give him a shave and a haircut. Every day for the next six weeks he goes back for a shave and Babe and Zel become friends. She soon marries Horace, who is living in the same boarding house as she.
Two years ago, 16-year-old Ryan, his 14-year-old brother, Michael, and their father are in a car accident. Their father gets killed and Michael loses a leg. Ryan has no memory of the accident but does have a sense of guilt that it's his fault ... had they not been at his football game, there would have been no accident and their father would still be alive.
Today Susan, Ryan and Michael's mother, is having a hard time making ends meet. She needs money to ensure Michael gets a proper prosthetic leg as he gets older. She decides to sell the Babe Ruth memorabilia that was given to her great grandmother, Zel. She meets Sam, an older retired baseball expert, while trying to sell a baseball card ... he helps her from not getting ripped off and a friendship develops between them. Susan also has Zel's diary which may contain a shocking family secret and Susan has to decide if it is worth revealing in order to take care of her family.
This is the first book I've read by this author and I enjoyed it. I liked the writing style ... it was well-paced and the storyline kept me interested. I like it when storylines from the past influence the storylines of today. Plus I'm a baseball fan (go, Blue Jays, go!). The language at times was mature but I was okay with that.
I liked the characters. It was obvious they were all dealing with tragedies ... the Bucks with the death of the father and Sam never got over the death of his wife twenty years ago.
I would recommend this book!