Never Blame the Umpire by Gene Fehler is a tearjerker of a story. I read the inside flap when I checked it out and knew that there was going to be some form of tragedy in the family. However, when I finally knew what the tragedy was, I could barely keep reading.
Kate and her brother Ken are in the midst of baseball season, enjoying the sport. As the story opens, Kate is upset because her parents missed their first game. When she and Ken arrive home they can tell their dad has been crying and their mom has gone to bed early because she is sick. Yet, life seems normal the next day and things carry on. Kate senses from time to time that there may be more going on, especially when her mom calls her and tells her to come home from her friend's house so they can go on a family picnic together. During this picnic Kate and Ken are told that their mother has terminal cancer.
Fehler writes this book from a Christian perspective, sharing Bible verses and creating a friend for Kate who also shares her faith. Kate's mom is able to find comfort in God and, despite knowing she is leaving her family behind, is able to accept what is to come.
I appreciated the religious views shared in this book. I liked that Kate and her friends also were able to talk about religion and find comfort in God's word, as did Kate's mom. I also enjoyed how Fehler was able to bring religion and faith into his writing without it sounding too preachy. Kate attending a summer writing school during the time period of her mom's illness and death. She was able to find great solace in her writing as a way of expressing her feelings - another part of this story I enjoyed.
Kate's mom is able to talk to Kate about her dying and her own acceptance of God's will by using an analogy - comparing an umpire to God. While we may not agree with an umpire's call, they are in charge of the game, and we have to live with the decision he has made. So, too, with God, who makes the decisions about certain things in our life. We don't have to like some of the things that are in God's plan, but we must also find a way to live with them.
While the ending is tragic, Fehler allows Kate and her family to look forward to the future here on earth, and also in heaven where they will be reunited. I don't usually cry during books, no matter how sad, but this one was hard to read without shedding a tear. Such a sad, yet hopeful story.