Book Review for the Week: Summerland

Heroes have often been born from unlikely mold. From four ordinary children entering a wardrobe, two hobbits carrying an object of great evil, to the emerging of a certain orphan with a scar –these literary figures have proved one thing. Heroes are made not born.

It is then the task given, destined to you that ultimately changes you. Great tasks beget great heroes. It is this very essence that allows a person to strive to become more than what he already is, to go beyond his boundaries. Joseph Campbell said that a hero is someone who has done something beyond the normal range of achievement. And what greater achievement to create a heroic figure than that of saving a world? This is The Quest few have been chosen to embark on. And one of them is Ethan Feld.

Ethan was one of those boys who calls himself a failure at the baseball plate. But when his father is abducted and the Four Worlds are threatened by an ancient cunning figure, he is called upon to stop the end of the world. And he does this by playing baseball.

No doubt, Summerland would have fit right into the typical recipe of an archetypal quest –get the chosen one, chosen one gathers band of companions, chosen one and crew encounter the bad guy, defeat him and save the world. Where if not for this significant element –baseball. Ethan and his group (ranging from a tiny giant to an even tinier Indian) slug through the Worlds, overcoming obstacles with their bats and mitts. Yet Summerland is more than just a fantasy tale about this game. It is a big Tree of stories whose multitude of branches embrace the myths of all ages. This novel is sprinkled with mythical allusions and archetypes who soon evolved into characters each memorable and unique in their own way. Chabon has created a rich tapestry of mythology that stands on its own. By the end of the story as Ethan and his motley crew struggle to save the Big Tree of Life, they realized they also gained something equally precious along the way –that of finding true strength within themselves. 

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