Enzo is the star player of the New Paltz Hawks, a baseball team of a small college in the upstate New York. After their latest defeat, Enzo gets an offer to join the Hawks’ arch-rivals, the far more successful Cortland Eagles. For Enzo, this might be a first step towards fulfilling a life-long dream of becoming a professional baseball player. Yet, he can’t help having doubts about leaving his team and his home town.
A lesser story would have settled upon one of these choices – stay or leave – as the right one and work its way from there. But Frank Marcopolos doesn’t get his protagonist off the hook so easily. While Enzo wouldn’t mind getting away from his overbearing mother Maryanne and his patronizing step-father Leonard, he is disturbed by the peculiar way Cortland Eagles welcome him as well as by the team’s alluring yet vacuous New Age guru Trudy Booth.
There’s also the small matter of Enzo’s girlfriend Shannon Hestian being pregnant. The novel could have used this to point out the correct decision for Enzo to make. Instead, Frank Marcopolos depicts a realistically messy relationship full of insecurities, selfishness, and jealousy. Enzo isn’t drawn towards Shannon because of love, but out of his sense of guilt about their unborn child. He wants to do the right thing, yet dreads spending life with someone he dislikes.
Somewhat unexpectedly, Enzo’s faith is a surprisingly important part of his story. Deeply disturbed by a family tragedy, former troublemaker Enzo turned to Catholicism. His faith is solemn and earnest in a way most often seen among the very young and the very old. Throughout the novel, his beliefs are challenged both by the increasingly stifling life in his home town and by the larger, stranger world waiting for him outside it. There’s a poignantly true description of Enzo’s situation in his stepfather’s seemingly insignificant retelling of the story of Icarus:
Hey! Don’t fly too low because the humidity from the water will slow you down too much, but also don’t fly too high because then the sun will melt the wax which holds the wings on.
The way Frank Marcopolos chooses to resolve the novel’s central dilemma may prove underwhelming to some readers. Although I can’t blame them for thinking so, I found it a fitting conclusion to a chapter in a much longer story of one life. EAGLES AND HAWKS AND ALSO PEOPLE AS WELL is as bittersweet as growing up. I wholeheartedly recommend it.
~Danijel Striga for IndieReader