In a small town in Maine, recently widowed Eveleth “Evvie” Drake rarely leaves her house. Everyone in town, including her best friend, Andy, thinks grief keeps her locked inside, and she doesn’t correct them. In New York, Dean Tenney, former major-league pitcher and Andy’s childhood friend, is struggling with a case of the “yips”: he can’t throw straight anymore, and he can’t figure out why. An invitation from Andy to stay in Maine for a few months seems like the perfect chance to hit the reset button.
When Dean moves into an apartment at the back of Evvie’s house, the two make a deal: Dean won’t ask about Evvie’s late husband, and Evvie won’t ask about Dean’s baseball career. Rules, though, have a funny way of being broken–and what starts as an unexpected friendship soon turns into something more. But before they can find out what might lie ahead, they’ll have to wrestle a few demons: the bonds they’ve broken, the plans they’ve changed, and the secrets they’ve kept. They’ll need a lot of help, but in life, as in baseball, there’s always a chance–right up until the last out.
Evvie had an emotionally abusive husband, who never wasted an opportunity to put her down. The night she is about to leave him is the night her husband dies in an accident. She suffers from a weird guilt, and people in the town takes this guilt for grief.
Dean has loved baseball all his life. It’s given him everything until he just could not for mysterious reasons pitch straight anymore. It forces him to retire from the game that has been his life. He has tried everything to recover from his ‘Yips’ and nothing works. So he decides to take off for a year and leave all the conjectures of the media and fans in New York.
Andy is Evvie’s best friend. He’s a divorcee with two daughters. What they share is purely platonic, with Evvie being a big source of comfort and help to him in getting his life back since his wife left him. He’s also good friends with Dean and so when Dean decides to come to Andy’s town to take a break, Andy suggests him renting the downstairs apartment of Evvie’s place.
Dean and Evvie are quite similar. They are damaged in certain ways and are unwilling to face their own demons. Evvie uses Dean’s problems as a new mission in life, in Andy’s words ‘Dean is another project for her to save, like she took on Andy’. But Dean doesn’t want her to encourage him to go back to baseball.
I found Evvie to be a very flawed, complicated and yet interesting character. She never shared about her own problems with anyone, not even the issues in her marital life. She is non-confrontational in a way. She’s more intent on changing other people’s lives rather than her own.
Dean, on the other hand, is aggressively on denial about what he wants and wishes for. But thankfully his denial does not extend to his feelings for Evvie. The progress from friendship to a relationship is perhaps not too smooth, but it certainly felt organic. The romance was not too romantic. But it was a nice little story.
While the story has its charms and warmth, it suffers from a slowness of pace. It could use more energy and passion. I also think that the ending could have been better. But the overall journey of Evvie was satisfying to read.