cover image Conviction


Kelly Loy Gilbert. Hyperion, $17.99 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4231-9738-6

Braden Raynor’s father has instilled three values in his 16-year-old son: undying family loyalty, faith in God, and a dream of becoming a professional athlete. All three are tested when Braden’s father is accused of killing a police officer in a hit-and-run accident. Braden’s estranged brother, Trey, returns to take custody of Braden, while Braden grapples with his own testimony, which will help determine if his father goes free or faces the death penalty. Using baseball as a metaphor for Braden’s life, debut author Gilbert intersperses Braden’s stints on the pitching mound with the ongoing trial, his attempts at living with some semblance of normalcy, and flashbacks that form a scathing portrait of his father. Gilbert gives Braden a blistering fastball, though the narrative is frustratingly coy, teasing out the truth in a meandering fashion that is at times more plodding than suspenseful. But the tale remains a thorough examination of all that the title implies, spanning the court drama and challenging the beliefs of each member of this dysfunctional family. Ages 14–up. Agent: Adriann Ranta, Wolf Literary Services. (May)